Protecting the Great Lakes from a Catastrophic Oil Spill




Photo: FLOW

The case against Line 5, the dual 64-year-old petroleum pipelines running under Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac, has deepened. The question now is whether government officials will do anything about it and end the risk of a catastrophic oil spill affecting a large area of the Great Lakes.

      A report that surfaced in June revealed that Enbridge, the pipeline owner and operator, has for years routinely violated a legal agreement to properly anchor Line 5 against the swift currents in the Straits. The company tolerated lengthy unsupported spans in violation of the 1953 easement agreement through which the state of Michigan granted Enbridge conditional occupancy of the lakebed.

      “Enbridge’s willful neglect to properly support Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac is a game changer,” says Liz Kirkwood, executive director of FLOW, a Traverse City-based Great Lakes water law and policy center. She said the state now must apply the law, stop Line 5’s oil flow and hold public hearings as it considers the Canadian company’s application to continue to use the decaying steel infrastructure.

      Ed Timm, Ph.D., an engineer advising FLOW, notes it is likely that damage to the pipe has already occurred because unsupported spans were not detected and repaired in a timely way by Enbridge. A University of Michigan study found that more than 700 miles of shoreline in Lakes Michigan and Huron and on their islands are potentially vulnerable to damage from an oil release in the Straits.

      On June 29, the state’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board released an analysis of alternatives to Line 5 that fails to examine existing pipeline infrastructure and that is biased toward allowing Line 5 to continue to operate through new oil pipelines and further expand its operations says Kirkwood.

      Enbridge was responsible for the nation’s largest-ever inland oil spill in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River watershed in 2010. There have been at least 29 spills from Line 5 releasing more than 1 million gallons of oil and gas into the environment.

Public comments on the study of alternatives to the pipeline can be made at MIPetroleumPipelines.com/document/alternatives-analysis-straits-pipeline by Aug. 4. For more information, visit FlowForWater.org/Line-5. Additional information is also available at the Oil and Water Don’t Mix website, OilAndWaterDontMix.org/comment_to_shutdown.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Harvest. Store. Plant. Create.

Fall is the time to pick crisp apples for eating now and also to preserve nature’s bounty for winter enjoyment.

Shedding the Straw Habit

New Online Resource for Chicago Region Tree Canopy Assists Local Planning

Trees do more than beautify our landscape. These hardworking plants help reduce heat islands, clean our air and water, benefit vulnerable populations, impact real estate value and improve the health of a community. But not all trees are the same; what we grow and where we grow it matters.

FIVE July Gardening TIPS

What a Difference a Summer Solstice Makes

On June 20, at 11:24 p.m., Chicagoans can perform the annual ritual of saying hello to the sun on the first day of summer. The word solstice is from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the sun appears to stop at this time and again at the winter solstice.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »This Month

Fighting Cancer with Chinese Medicine

Chinese Medicine (CM) fills gaps in cancer prevention and treatment with the safe use of herbs, bodywork and supplements, as well as mind-body techniques that are beneficial for more than just symptom relief.

Letter from Publisher

This morning, I made an exciting discovery in our garden’s small milkweed plants, as my eyes caught a chewing pattern that repeated across several leaves—could it be?

Recumbent Biking for Fitness, Function and Fun

With smoother aerodynamics, improved ergonomics and a sleek presentation, recumbent bikes are quickly gaining a new audience. In the last several years, more people have started turning to recumbent biking for cardiovascular exercise, off-road adventures, an alternative to driving or just to explore the neighborhood.

New Chicago Waterways Paddle Guide Online

Openlands, one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, has launched a free online paddling guide for the water trails of northeastern Illinois (PaddleIllinoisWaterTrails.org) that provides detailed information on more than 500 miles of water trails for non-motorized boating on 10 of the region’s waterways and promotes paddling as an inclusive activity for local tourism and outdoor recreation.

Assessing Cancer Risk with Genetic Testing

A cancer diagnosis can be a frightful and devastating experience. According to the National Cancer Institute, 1,685,210 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2016, with the five most common being breast, lung, prostate, colon and rectum, and bladder.

Protecting the Great Lakes from a Catastrophic Oil Spill

The case against Line 5, the dual 64-year-old petroleum pipelines running under Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac, has deepened.