Great Lakes News

Great Lakes News

Contractors Selected to Assess Risk of Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline


The Michigan Agency for Energy announced that it has selected two contractors to assess the spill risk and alternative options for Enbridge Line 5 — a pipeline from 1953 that carries oil under the environmentally-sensitive Straits of Mackinac — according to a press release by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette

Critics and environmentalists are concerned that the pipeline, which carries almost 23 million gallons of light crude oil and natural gas a day from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario, may leak into the Straits of Mackinac, harming the ecosystem, local tourism and the state’s economy. Critics also cite an Enbridge pipeline burst in 2010 that spilled more than 1 million gallons of heavy tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River watershed.

Enbridge Energy Company Inc., who owns the pipelines, insists that the Line 5 is safe. The company has also agreed to pay the approximately $3.6 million to fund the assessments by the private contractors. Last month, Enbridge also announced that it will spend $7 million over the next two years on equipment that could could be quickly deployed in case of a spill.

The contractor Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems Inc. will evaluate the current pipeline and potential alternatives. Det Norske Veritas (U.S.A.) Inc. will conduct its own analysis, looking at what resources (including financial) would be necessary to clean up a worst-case scenario spill from the pipeline. Officials will make a decision about the fate of Enbridge Line 5 after the studies are completed in summer 2017.

“Our Great Lakes are the crown jewels of Michigan and we have a duty preserve them for generations to come,” says Schuette. “We are now taking the next step forward to formally define the environmental and financial risks we face.”

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[Photo courtesy of NWF]