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.
Though Line 5 receives regular supervision by Enbridge, Stephen Lloyd, a senior manager of emergency response for the company, said an investment of $7 million is being put into emergency response equipment.
“We’re looking to make sure that we’re able to contain and recover [oil] in open water,” Lloyd said on Stateside. “To prevent it [from] actually making landfall.”
Lloyd added that the new technology, which includes skimmers for icy conditions, will make sure Enbridge is “prepared in the unlikely event of a release.”
Line 5 carries more than 500,000 barrels of crude oil and natural gas liquids every day under the Straits, and has been operating since 1953. But Lloyd says the public should not be concerned about the age of the pipeline.
“With proper maintenance programs and rigorous monitoring,” Lloyd said, “the life expectancy can be indefinite.”
But that maintenance may not be enough, said Michigan Radio’s Mark Brush, who has been covering Enbridge and Line 5 for several years.
Brush told Stateside most people just aren't comfortable having an oil pipeline run through Lake Michigan.
Brush noted that Enbridge is exceeding the government’s standards for pipeline safety, but the National Wildlife Federation doesn’t believe those standards are tough enough. Ever since the spill of Line 6B in Kalamazoo in 2010, Line 5 has been under a watchful eye.
“People were shocked to find out there’s something under Lake Michigan,” Brush said, adding that this pressure led to the U.S. Senate passing tighter pipeline regulation.
Lloyd joined Cynthia Canty on Stateside to talk about Enbridge’s safety plan. Michigan Radio’s Mark Brush also joined Stateside to discuss the concerns surrounding Line 5.
In full disclosure, Enbridge is a financial supporter of Michigan Radio.
Stephen Lloyd is a senior manager of emergency response with Enbridge.
Mark Brush has covered Enbridge and Line 5 for Michigan Radio