Study finds that an oil spill under Mackinac Straits would be “deathblow” to Northern Michigan

Jul 10, 2014

New computer modeling from the University of Michigan shows the possible effects of an oil spill under the Straits of Mackinac. It shows oil would spread widely across Northern Michigan shorelines.

Concerns are growing over a pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.
Concerns are growing over a pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.
Credit James Marvin Phelps

The National Wildlife Federation  says twin pipelines under the Straits are in poor condition and could rupture.

“To have an oil spill of the magnitude that’s potential … with the reach, the scope, and the travel that would occur from such a spill – it would be a deathblow for Great Lakes ecology and economy,” said Andy Buchsbaum, executive director the NWF’s Great Lakes Natural Resources Center.

“Everybody recognizes that that spill would be devastating,” he said. “And I think that this report actually puts a scientific point on how devastating it would be.”

The pipelines are operated by Enbridge, the company responsible for the 2010 oil spill in the Kalamazoo River. Enbridge says the pipelines are operating safely.

Below are videos of U of M's Straits of Mackinac contaminant release scenarios: