Michigan Environmental Council Statement on the Line 5 Enbridge Reports

In response to a report released by Enbridge today on priority waters crossed by Line 5, the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) issued the following statement.

“These reports do not alleviate the ever-growing threat of a spill in the Straits of Mackinac as a result of Line 5, and therefore, reaffirm the fact that the State of Michigan should immediately begin legal proceedings against Enbridge to terminate the easement that allows for a pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.  

MEC also has the following concerns or comments on the reports:

Public Input – Although Enbridge claims to have been transparent in this process, in reality, no public input has been sought by the Canadian company or the State in the preparation of these reports. A spill in the Straits of Mackinac would affect the lives of every Michigander, and therefore public input is imperative in these discussions. MEC recommends that concurrent to legal proceedings on the easement, the state should conduct a minimum of four public hearings on these reports along the pipeline route.

Potential Pipeline Leaks – The methods Enbridge uses to monitor the pipeline for leaks are inadequate. Enbridge’s primary leak detection strategy is to measure the pressure and flow volume through the pipeline. This method of leak detection leaves the Great Lakes extremely vulnerable, as spills releasing over 100,000 gallons a day can go undetected with this approach. The State should require more actual monitoring for leaks at critical points and major river crossings all along the pipeline route.

Lack of Prevention – These reports also show that there is an over reliance on addressing spills after they occur instead of preventing them in the first place. They fail to explore locations where secondary containment technologies (such as that employed by a double-hulled oil tanker) would significantly minimize any risk of spills at critical locations along Line 5. For example, if a spill occurs in close proximity to a major tributary into the Great Lakes, the impacts would be quick and devastating. The State should assess where secondary containment is a reasonable and prudent investment to protect the Great Lakes and inland waters.

Ability to Stop Flow if Leaks Occur – Lastly, Enbridge did not provide any information about the current locations of remote-controlled isolation valves. These details need to be shared immediately so that the public can see whether or not the company has sufficient control over the flow of oil within the pipeline.   

The other reports released today detailing the ability to prevent a spill in the Straits of Mackinac confirm the risk that Line 5 poses to the Great Lakes and the need to move as quickly as possible to discontinue the use of the pipeline. Now that the reports have been submitted, Michigan Environmental Council will be conducting and sharing a more detailed analysis in the coming weeks."

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