Environmental groups want an oil pipeline company to replace a sixty-year-old line that runs under the Straits of Mackinaw. They’re holding a rally at the Straits this Sunday.
Beth Wallace with the National Wildlife Federation says there have been leaks in other sections of line 5, not in the part that runs under the Straits.
“You know this pipeline is not spill proof. And an expansion of a sixty year old pipeline that runs through some of the most sensitive areas in the world is not the direction that we should be going,” Wallace says.
Enbridge insists its pipe under the Straits is extra strong and regularly inspected. Company spokesman Larry Springer says the heavy-gauge steel is expected to last indefinitely.
“I think we can show that we have a record of safely and properly operating that line as one of the most carefully inspected, most well maintained pipelines that you could ever have,” Springer says.
Enbridge increased the capacity through pipeline 5 earlier this year to more than 500,000 barrels per day. It also operates the pipeline that ruptured and spilled nearly a million gallons into the Kalamazoo River. That’s still not completely cleaned-up after three years, in part because it was heavy crude from Canadian tar sands.
The National Wildlife Federation is asking government officials to ban the transport of heavy crude oil in the Great Lakes. Beth Wallace says that includes the pipeline running across the bottom of the Straits.
“The product running through it that’s derived from Alberta tar sands is a product that not many people know how to clean-up when a spill does occur,” Wallace says.
But Larry Springer with Enbridge say the number 5 line only carries light oil products.That oil goes to refineries in Detroit and Sarnia, Ontario that produce motor fuels for Michigan drivers.