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With concerns mounting after decades-old UP oil spill, Enbridge responds

May 11, 2016

There are some new questions bubbling up concerning a decades-old oil spill in the Upper Peninsula.

Around 1980, Canadian oil transport company Enbridge discovered its Line 5 oil pipeline had sprung a leak and spilled an estimated five barrels of oil in the Hiawatha National Forest.

Yes, that’s the same Line 5 whose twin pipelines run under the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge claims it managed to clean up four of the five barrels spilled.

The company returned to the spill site in 2011 to perform a valve replacement, and discovered high levels of harmful, petroleum-related compounds in the ground. In response, Enbridge dug up 825 tons of contaminated earth and asked the Forest Service for a permit to install a groundwater monitoring system in the area.

If 825 tons sounds like a lot of soil for one barrel to contaminate, you’re not wrong. Enbridge manager of community relations Jason Manshum explains that that figure includes the soil that was excavated as part of the valve replacement as well as the contaminated stuff they removed.

Despite the fact that contaminants were found in the forest’s soil some 30 years after the initial spill, Manshum is adamant that Enbridge’s cleanup efforts in 1980 “adhered to all regulations at the state and the federal level.”

“We made all proper notifications,” he says. “In fact we even contacted the U.S. Forest Service when there wasn’t a requirement to do so.”

Listen to Manshum tell us a little about Enbridge’s response to the 2011 discovery of contaminants in the Hiawatha National Forest and how the company handles historical spills sites:

Manshum joined Stateside’s Cynthia Canty to talk more about the spill in the Hiawatha National Forest and respond to some of the concerns Michiganders have about the company’s pipelines.

Listen to the full interview below: