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.
“At the present time there is no real-time water flow measurements through the Straits of Mackinac. And that is absolutely the first starting point if there is a disaster in that area,” said GLRC Director Guy Meadows.
“The very first step that’s necessary is, which way is the water moving?”
Environmentalists fear the 60-year-old pipeline is unsafe and that a leak would be catastrophic for the Great Lakes.
Meadows says whether or not there’s ever a leak, the data will still be valuable.
“It’s a very high-traffic area, an area that people care about. And having an environmental monitoring buoy that is open and available to everyone really is a plus for the region.”
Enbridge says the line is safe and regularly inspected. A spokesperson for the company says data from the buoy will help ensure it continues to be properly maintained and if additional safety measures are needed.
In full disclosure, Enbridge Energy is one of Michigan Radio's corporate underwriters.