Environmentalists claim that the 5th pipeline between the United States and Canada could cause “destructive damage” to the Great Lakes


An aging pipeline carries oil along the bottom of the ecologically sensitive and turbulent Mackinac Strait. The confluence of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron is in such a state of disrepair that it may break at any time and cause catastrophic damage to the Great Lakes. Environmentalists warn.

Line 5 is a 1,000-kilometer pipeline owned by Calgary-based Enbridge that transports up to 540,000 barrels of oil and natural gas liquids daily from Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario, and then to other refineries in Ontario and Quebec. factory.

This is the center of the political dispute between Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Canadian officials (including Ontario Governor Doug Ford), who ordered the closure of what she called a “time bomb” , The latter insisted that it is safe to support Ambridge to continue running.

In a statement to CBC News, Ford said: “In the past year, I have written and spoke with the Governor to express my disappointment and emphasized that Line 5 is ensuring the economic, environmental and energy resources of the entire Great Lakes region. The importance of safety.”.

“Our government believes that pipelines are a safe way to transport basic fuel between the Great Lakes and operate in accordance with the highest pipeline safety standards.”

Enbridge stated that Line 5 is safe and saves the trouble of transporting large amounts of fuel by truck or train.

But Michel Woodhouse, the water project manager of the Toronto Environmental Protection Agency, said it was time to put politics aside and cut off the “artificial narrative” of Ambridge. She said that the danger posed by pipelines to the Great Lakes is too risky to “gamble”.

Oil leaked before Line 5

Line 5 was designed in 1953 and has a service life of 50 years, or until 2003. 18 years later, it is still running and there are quite a few problems, Woodhouse said.

“This is a very old, deteriorating, and dangerous pipeline that has leaked a large amount of oil into the surrounding land and water through which it passes,” she said.

According to reports, since 1953, there have been 29 leaks on Line 5, leaking 4.5 million liters of oil into the environment. media reports.

The Michigan state government stated that the pipeline has also repeatedly violated safety standards. Court documents The Michigan complaint alleges that the anchor of a ship recently struck and damaged the pipeline in 2018, and the contractor mistakenly damaged its support in 2019, and the problem was not discovered for a year.

Television screens provided by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy showed damage to the anchoring support on the eastern section of the Onbridge 5 Pipeline in the Mackinac Strait. (Associated Press)

Woodhouse said the spill would cause “destructive damage” to the shorelines of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, endangering drinking water, fisheries, businesses and households.

Diana Sachs, former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario and current Deputy Leader of the Ontario Green Party, said that if Line 5 does leak in the Strait of Mackinac, it will create a “huge cloud of pollution”, destroying the intricate fish ecosystem and causing water to flow downstream. To Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

“It runs in one of the most dangerous places in the Great Lakes, where the waters are very turbulent,” Saxon said.

University of Michigan learn This has been confirmed since 2014. Researchers found that strong currents in the strait, which change direction every few days, pollute the coastline 80 kilometers away within a few days.

Enbridge says the pipeline is in good condition

Enbridge spokesperson Tracy Larsson (Tracy Larsson) said that the company annually inspects the double pipes of Line 5 that pass through the Strait of Mackinaw. These double pipes are made of “thick seamless steel” and have been certified. In good condition. She also stated that the service life of Line 5 depends on inspection and maintenance, not when it is built.

Enbridge also spent CAD 500 million to build a tunnel across the strait to cover and protect Line 5.

“Ultimately, the Great Lakes Tunnel is a common-sense solution to meet Michigan’s energy needs while protecting the Great Lakes, our communities and waterways,” Larson said.

However, the upgrade may not be completed in a few years because President Joe Biden’s government Recently ordered Strict environmental review.

Natural Resources Canada told CBC News that the alternative to Line 5 is to transport 800 rail cars and 2,000 trucks of fuel in Canada every day, plus 15,000 trucks in the United States.

The NRC said in a statement: “These options are less safe, more polluting, and more expensive.”

Woodhouse called these figures “completely exaggerated” and stated that Canada’s existing transportation system is capable of transporting oil and natural gas to meet the energy needs of the region.

She said that tankers and trucks should be just a temporary solution because Canada is abandoning fossil fuels, as it promised in its climate pledge.

“We know the direction of climate change and global warming,” Woodhouse said. “We have to get the job done as soon as possible. So, the fact that these companies and their allies are doing things, such as signing transactions, are basically sending signals that we don’t care, which is very disturbing.”

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer vowed to close Onkyo’s Line 5. (Tom Brunner/Reuters)

‘No cooperation’

Whitmer recently revoked the easement that allowed Enbridge to run Route 5 through Michigan in 1953 and gave the company Deadline on May 12 Stop operations, although it has not been enforced. The parties are still in a court-ordered mediation process, which will end in August, but it is not clear when the dispute will be resolved.

Enbridge says Press release earlier this year It has no intention of shutting down Line 5, and Whitmer’s actions are illegal, ignoring science and evidence.

Press Secretary Bobby Leddy said in a statement that the Whitmer administration insisted that Michigan could not trust Onkyo’s other pipeline in the state after it broke down in 2010, “causing the greatest amount in American history. One of the serious inland oil spills”.

“If Enbridge continues to operate the pipeline after the deadline, the state will seek to hand over the profits it made when it illegally invaded state land,” Leddy said.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said that if Line 5 is closed, his city will lose up to 5,000 high-paying jobs. He said the action will also have a significant impact on communities in Ontario and Quebec that use oil and gas to produce more than 600 products.

He said that every time he tried to raise his concerns with Whitmer, she did not respond.

“The Governor of Michigan has caused incredible damage to the relationship between Ontario and Michigan,” Bradley said. “This is disturbing. There is no cooperation when it should be.”



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