Aging Oil Pipeline Draws Growing Opposition
Posted on: April 18, 2016

Opposition is mounting against two aging Enbridge pipelines which run below the Makinac Bridge, and idle chat is now formal complaint.

Last Wednesday, Senator Rick Jones introduced a measure to shut down Enbridge’s twin pipelines, known collectively as Line 5. Now 62 years old, Line 5 was the subject of a short documentary film by Motherboard, a branch of Vice News launched in 2009. “The Dirty Secret at the Bottom of the Great Lakes: Oil and Water” has been viewed over 400,000 times at this writing. The film presents issues surrounding the pipeline, and explores potential environmental impact on the Great Lakes regions if a rupture were to happen. We provided a write up and link to the film here.

Jones’ measure, Senate Bill 880, aims to completely stop the flow of crude oil from Alberta oil fields to Sarnia, Ontario. More than 500,000 barrels of oil and liquid petroleum product flows through the pipeline daily.

According to a release on Sen. Jones’ website, Bill 880 will, if passed, “amend the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act to stop future pipelines from running through the Great Lakes. It would also require operators of current oil pipelines to undergo a full risk analysis by a qualified independent third party and turn it into the state. If the preliminary analysis concludes that risks are high, the pipeline would be shut down immediately.”

Read the full release, with commentary from Sen. Jones, here.

Also last Wednesday, The Detroit News reports that groups collectively opposed to the pipelines sent a letter to top Michigan officials, including Governor Rick Snyder, urging them to end the 60-year-old easement which allows Enbridge to run the pipelines through the Makinac Strait. An umbrella organization called Oil & Water Don’t Mix submitted the letter on behalf of environmental groups and regional conservancies.

The Oil & Water Don’t Mix  group believes that Enbridge is in violation of the easement. To support their claim, they state a number of alleged violations, including violations relating to:

  • an inadequate indemnity policy
  • not maintaining adequate thickness of pipeline walls
  • pipeline curvature requirements
  • lack of a proper oil spill response plan

When The Detroit News asked Enbridge for comment, representative Ryan Duffy said that the group’s claims were “scare tactics and fear-mongering.”

Duffy told the Detroit News in an email response that:“Enbridge takes very seriously its commitment to safety and environmental protection [. . .] To be clear, we are in full compliance with all state and federal regulations, and with the easement requirements for the Straits of Mackinac Crossing. … Line 5 has safely delivered critical energy supplies needed by the people of Michigan for more than 60 years, and we applaud the State for following a detailed and informed process to assess the issues that have been raised.”

To see the full story, including Senate response to Senator Jones’ bill, see The Detroit News article here.


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