Pipeline safety a concern in Michigan
A coalition of residents, tribal leaders, health professionals and environmental advocates are urging Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette to decommission a pipeline they say poses a threat to the environment and human health.
The group appeared before the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board (PSAB) quarterly meeting to express their concerns over Line 5, owned by Enbridge.
Dr. Edward E. Timm, PhD, PE released a report last week on the deficiencies in the original design of Line 5 and the implications of the underwater current data for the Straits of Mackinac where the twin crude oil pipelines lie. The nearly 64 year-old twin oil and gas pipelines carry more than 20 million gallons of oil along the bottom of the Mackinac Straits and pose a potential threat to the Great Lakes and surrounding communities.
The PSAB is charged with conducting an independent study of alternatives to Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. The coalition says the board includes members of various oil corporations, including Enbridge, owner of Line 5, with concerning financial interests in the outcome of the study.
“Line 5 poses a significant risk to our Great Lakes and the life they support, said Aaron Payment Chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. “A rupture in Line 5 would devastate our tribal fishing grounds granted to us through treaty rights, it’s unacceptable to allow these dangerous oil and gas pipelines to put the health of the lakes and our livelihood at risk.”
The coalition criticized the alternatives study for characterizing what it called an “industry friendly” alternative to the pipeline as beneficial and advantageous, while other, more environmentally options – like decommissioning the pipeline – were couched in neutral language. The economic analysis of Line 5 included an eight-state regional analysis but the State of Michigan has no responsibility for the economies of these other states.
“The oil and gas industry-friendly firms chosen to conduct the risks and alternatives analyses studies for Line 5 are alarming and the validity of their reports are questionable at best,” said Mariah Urueta, Food & Water Watch. “It is the responsibility of our leaders like Gov. Rick Snyder and A.G. Bill Schuette to ensure their constituents are provided with a safe and health environment, and the only acceptable alternative is to shut down Line 5.”
The coalition says Michiganders want the Governor and AG to do more to protect public health in the state and ensure that the water remains safe to drink.
“Line 5 under the Straits is a Triple Winner in AA parlance. Fatigued metal, compromised coating, and corrosive biofouling,” said Dr. Ed timm, PhD, P.E. “I’m like Dilbert, I inform management so that they can make a difficult technical decision. You are the management, don’t let this come out like a typical Dilbert cartoon.”
Enbridge came under fire in July 2010 when one of its pipelines ruptured, sending heavy crude oil from Canada into Talmadge Creek, a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. Although alarms sounded in Enbridge’s Edmonton headquarters, the company failed to report the spill – which would turn out to be one of the largest inland oil spills in U.S. history. It was 18 hours before a Michigan utilities employee reported the spill and steps were taken to control it. Dozens of nearby homes were evacuated and 35 miles of the Kalamazoo Rover were closed for clean-up for two years.
Source: Food & Water Watch