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Preventing pipeline spills: views on Enbridge’s Line 5

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World Pipelines,

A study by the University of Michigan and National Wildlife Federation, has revealed that over 700 miles of Great Lakes shoreline (USA) could be damaged if Canada’s Enbridge Line 5 pipeline ruptures under the Straits of Mackinac. The pipeline transports approximately 23 million gal./d of light crude oil and natural gas.

Researchers conducted 840 potential pipeline oil spill simulations, based on weather and current with spill volumes of 5000, 10 000 and 25000 bbls of light crude oil.

Mike Shriberg, National Wildlife Federation, stated: “The Mackinac Straits are a very unpredictable place for where the oil is going to go. Under the best of scenarios, oil recovery gets about 30% of the oil. In the Straits of Mackinac, there would be very little oil recovery under ice."

Shriberg continued: “We know that there has been some corrosion of the pipes and that is generally what causes spills and leaks. But Enbridge has not, after repeated requests, from organisations such as my own, provided that safety data.

"It's very hard to take what Enbridge is saying about safety at face-value. I think we have to make a choice. Do we entrust this company to say, yep, it's ok, everything's all right, you can entrust the Great Lakes to us? Or do we, as a state and as a group of citizens, want to take control of that?"

Ryan Duffy, an Enbridge spokesman explained that the study "focus[es] on an unrealistic volume of oil released … the worst-case discharge is approximately 4950 bbls, which is significantly lower than the volume assumed in this study.”

"There are automatic shut off valves located on either side of the Straits of Mackinac that will shut down the flow of product into the line within three minutes if there is a drop in pressure ... Line 5 has operated safely across the Straits of Mackinac for 63 years, and continues to do so. Enbridge takes very seriously its responsibility to operate its facilities safely to protect the public and the environment, while providing a vital service to the residents and economy of Michigan."

Edited from various sources by Stephanie Roker

Sources: The Michigan Daily, MLive, Detroit Free Press, Fox 2, Michigan News

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