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mackinac straits

map of Line 5
Enbridge

A report on Enbridge Energy's Line 5 pipeline titled “Canadian Profits, Michigan Risk” was released by Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities Wednesday morning.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

UPDATED 5/25/18 at 2:13 pm.

A new poll by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA poll found 54% of Michigan voters want the Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac to be shut down.

It also found that 87% of voters said they are concerned that the 65-year-old pipeline could have oil spill in Northern Michigan, while 64% said they are "very concerned."

Enbridge Energy, which is a corporate sponsor of Michigan Radio, owns and maintains Line 5.

Mackinac Bridge
Julie Falk / Flickr

A coolant spill in the Straits of Mackinac did not harm the Great Lakes. That’s according to the Coast Guard and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

ENBRIDGE INSPECTION VIDEO SHARED WITH THE STATE OF MICHIGAN

Michigan’s economy would take a big hit from an oil spill in the Mackinac Straits, according to a new study.

A study by Michigan State University ecological economist Robert Richardson estimates Michigan’s economy would lose $6.3 billion if there’s a significant oil pipeline break in the Straits of Mackinac.

The study is based on a scenario where more than 2 million gallons of crude oil leaks from the Enbridge Energy Line 5 pipeline.  

The Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

An electrical cable that leaked hundreds of gallons of mineral oils into the Straits of Mackinac will be inspected – as soon as the weather clears up.

Unified Command is a team of local, state and federal officials that responded to the spill reported earlier this month. The owner of the cable line, American Transmission Company is also on the team.

The plan is to send a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) under the water to inspect the line.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

There's been more than a little concern regarding Enbridge's oil and gas pipeline known as Line 5. It crosses under the Mackinac Straits near the Mighty Mac Bridge, and it's more than 60 years old.

Some of its protective coating is missing and there's been some interior corrosion, but Enbridge says Line 5 is safe.

But, recent vessel activity – presumably an anchor strike – damaged submerged electric cables and also dented Line 5 in three spots. 

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

Three small dents in Enbridge Energy's Line 5 pipeline are likely from the same vessel that caused damage to electrical cables in the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge told the state late Tuesday night that the damage poses no threat to the pipeline, although a previous independent analysis listed anchor damage as one of the largest risks to the line.

Mackinac Bridge
Wikimedia Commons

Officials say 550 gallons of potentially toxic coolant fluid have leaked from electric power cables that run underwater where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet.

The owner of the cables, American Transmission Company, says the fluid is a mineral-based synthetic oil used for insulation that can be harmful if released into the environment.

American Transmission says the leak was discovered after the two cables tripped offline Sunday evening. The cables have been taken out of service.

exterior of elementary school
Stockbridge Community Schools

Threats against schools have spiked in Michigan since the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. At a press conference in Detroit yesterday, U.S. attorney Matthew Schneider vowed to track down and prosecute the people making threats.

Michigan Radio’s senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry joined Morning Edition host Doug Tribou to discuss the impact of the threat of prosecution.

Courtesy of Michigan Barefoot Memories

The already-stunning photo ops at the Straits of Mackinac just got even better.

Rare blue ice has formed at Mackinac, and it’s a bonanza for photographers, such as Michigan Barefoot Memories.

SCREENSHOT FROM ENBRIDGE REPORT TO THE STATE

Governor Rick Snyder is rejecting a proposal to shut down an oil pipeline that runs beneath the Mackinac Straits.

Last month the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board (MPSAB), a panel created by the governor, urged Snyder to temporarily shut down Enbridge Line 5 until it can be inspected for gaps in the external coating and all the gaps are repaired.

But today, the governor says recent tests indicated there “is not a risk of imminent failure.”  

SCREENSHOT FROM ENBRIDGE REPORT TO THE STATE

Tired of waiting for the state, environmentalists are offering their own plan for shutting down an oil pipeline that runs beneath the Mackinac Straits.

In recent years, concerns the aging pipeline could leak prompted calls from various groups to stop oil flowing through the pipeline. The Line 5 pipeline is owned by Enbridge Energy, which is a corporate sponsor of Michigan Radio.

map of Line 5
Enbridge

A final state-commissioned report on alternatives to Line 5 is out.    People are looking for those alternatives because the pipeline runs under the straits of Mackinac, and a spill could be catastrophic.   The highly technical report from Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems claims the overall risk of a spill from Line 5 is very small.  Most people worry about the pipeline losing its protective coating, or metal fatigue caused by stresses from the strong currents, but the report claims the greater threat is a ship anchor striking the pipeline.    The alternatives considered range from an expensive $2 to $3 billion new pipeline that avoids the Great Lakes altogether to constructing a new section of the pipeline across the Straits in a trench or tunnel. That alternative would cost between $30 to 150 million, according to the analysis.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

Michigan’s energy chief says Enbridge downplayed the significance of damage to the protective coating on its oil and gas pipeline that runs under the Mackinac Straits.

Parts of the coating were removed while workers installed safety anchors on a portion of Line 5 that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The patches where the metal was scraped bare are close to a foot in diameter. That's much larger than Enbridge initially reported.

This map shows the probabilities of where oil might go after a spill in the Straits of Mackinac.
From the UM Water Center report

A group hopes to get a ballot question before voters that would ban Enbridge from transporting oil through its Line 5 pipelines, which run under the Straits of Mackinac.

Attorney Jeffrey Hank is with the group, Keep Our Lakes Great.

Hank says while there are other efforts underway, including studies assessing the risks of the pipeline and alternatives to it, "we can't dawdle. After Flint and all these other lessons, we've seen we can't just sit around. So if the state doesn't do something, we're going to put the question before voters."

AN ENBRIDGE INSPECTION VIDEO SHARED WITH THE STATE OF MICHIGAN

An oil pipeline running beneath the Straits of Mackinac could be shut down under a bill in the legislature.

The company that operates the pipeline insists it’s safe.

Nevertheless, State Senator Rick Jones wants a third party analysis of Line 5. 

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

UPDATED at 9:34 pm on 8/3/16

Some of the supports for Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac are not as close together as they should be, according to State Attorney General Bill Schuette.

That’s gotten the company into some hot water with the state of Michigan.

Supports help keep the pipeline stable as it is buffeted by the powerful currents of the Straits. 

Enbridge told the state in 2014 the pipeline has supports every 75 feet, as required by the state's 1953 easement.

Screen showing Line 5 on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan has contracted with Det Norske Veritas to conduct a risk analysis of Enbridge Energy Line 5, two oil pipelines that run under the Straits of Mackinac.

A separate consultant, Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, will study the alternatives to keeping the aging pipelines open.

Environmental groups say a failure of the pipelines would be a catastrophe for the Great Lakes.

Enbridge Energy

Increased public and political pressure has led Enbridge to invest $7 million in equipment to protect against a spill from the 63-year-old pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. The Canadian energy company hopes to bring safety reassurance to Michigan through a series of community open houses near Line 5.

Enbridge Energy says they’ll spend $7 million over the next two years to buy new clean up tools in case there’s a spill along its Line 5 pipeline.   There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Line 5 where it crosses at the Straits of Mackinac. At the
Enbridge Energy

Officials with Enbridge Energy say they’ll spend $7 million over the next two years to buy new clean up tools in case there’s a spill along its Line 5 pipeline.

 

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Line 5 where it crosses at the Straits of Mackinac. At the Straits, the oil and liquid natural gas pipeline splits into two smaller diameter pipelines to make the underwater crossing.

 

Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Congress has ordered stronger safety measures for pipelines carrying oil and other fuels in the Great Lakes region.

The requirement is contained in a bill that cleared the Senate on Monday and the House last week. It now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The measure re-authorizes a federal program that regulates 2.6 million miles of pipelines nationwide.

Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan says it designates the Great Lakes as an "unusually sensitive area," where pipelines must meet tougher standards for safe operations.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Government agencies will practice responding to an oil spill from a pipeline crossing the St. Clair River tomorrow. 

The pipeline passes beneath the St. Clair River just south of Port Huron.

The drill will involve a simulated 13-minute, 5,000-barrel oil spill. The exercise will involve boats in the river and absorbent booms in the water, all to corral and collect fictional oil leaking from the pipeline.

The drill involves government agencies and the pipeline’s owner, Enbridge.

Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Colin McCarthy

There's a more-than-60-year-old underwater pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac. It's called Line 5, and is operated by Enbridge, the company responsible for the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history. The 2010 spill resulted in the release of about a million gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo river. 

A new film follows a pair of Grand Rapids natives on their "fossil fuel-free" journey along the pipeline's 500-mile route. It's called Great Lakes, Bad Lines. 

Filmmaker Paul Hendricks joins us to talk about the film. 

The barge in the middle of the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is extending the deadline for bids to study an oil and gas pipeline that runs along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. The pipeline is known as Enbridge Line 5. 

The study will include a risk analysis of the 60-year-old pipeline, and alternatives to shipping oil and gas beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

“The key is, how do we reduce that risk?" said James Clift of the Michigan Environmental Council. "How do we protect the lakes?”

Gary Peters
User: Gary Peters / Facebook

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D) has two big projects on his plate in an effort to strengthen protections for the Great Lakes and provide funding for the city of Flint in the wake of the water crisis.

The U.S. Senate recently gave unanimous approval to a funding bill that includes important protections for the Great Lakes. The bill re-authorizes the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which is the federal agency that oversees pipelines.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

  MACKINAW CITY, Mich. (AP) - Environmental activists are planning events during the Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk to call attention to a number of issues, including a controversial oil pipeline in the area.

A group called We Protect Mother Earth says its protest will feature speeches and a drumming ceremony. It will begin around 9 a.m. Monday at the St. Ignace Welcome Center on the north side of the bridge, where thousands of people will be taking part in the annual holiday walk.

NWF / screenshot from YouTube video

Enbridge Energy is sponsoring new efforts to monitor waters above its aging pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge is working with the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) out of Michigan Technical University to build and operate a buoy to measure currents in real time. That information will be made available for anyone to view online.

Protesters rallied at the state Capitol on July 30, 2015 demanding that an oil and gas pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac be shut down.
Jake Neher / MPRN

Dozens of protesters rallied at the state Capitol on Thursday against an aging pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

The group delivered a letter addressed to Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette demanding that the pipeline be shut down.

Norris Wong / Flickr

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio’s senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry and Morning Edition host Christina Shockley discuss a land swap deal between Detroit and the owners of the Ambassador Bridge; the beginnings of a lawsuit over an Enbridge pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac; and how some residents in Hamtramck are getting so fed up with bad roads, they are filling in potholes on their streets themselves. 


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