Facts from FLOW


According to For Love of Water (FLOW), Enbridge’s data reveal that sections of Line 5 in the Straits are cracked, dented, and encrusted with corrosion-causing mussels, and that a segment on land has lost 26 percent of its original wall thickness due to corrosion. In 2017, Enbridge admitted misleading both Michigan and federal officials on the condition of Line 5 for over three years, concealing dozens of bare metal spots and/or coating gaps near 128 anchor locations.

Line 5 has failed at least 33 times since 1968, spilling more than 1.1 million gallons of oil across Michigan and Wisconsin. Enbridge caused one of the nation’s largest inland oil spills in July 2010 when its Line 6B pipeline burst near Marshall, Mich., and for 17 hours dumped nearly one million gallons of heavy tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River watershed. It took four years and over $1.2 billion to clean it up to the extent possible. Line 6B was 41 years old when it failed; Line 5 is 66 years old and counting. Enbridge’s pipeline network had 804 total failures that spilled 6.8 million gallons of oil from 1999- 2010. Enbridge’s Line 6B spill as “the single most expensive on-shore spill in U.S. history,” according to the National Safety Transportation Board (NTSB). Moreover, the agency concluded that the Line 6B disaster was caused by corrosion fatigue cracks and the prolonged 17-hour spill, which “were made possible by pervasive organizational failures at Enbridge.”

Enbridge lacks a credible worst-case scenario emergency response plan to recover oil. Enbridge lacks a credible plan to recover spilled oil when ice tops the Mackinac Straits. U.S. Coast Guard officials cannot respond at night when it is windy, wavy (over three feet), icy, or dark. Only 30 percent of an oil spill would be recovered under the best conditions, according Enbridge’s cleanup contractor. A Line 5 oil spill could deliver a blow of over $6 billion in economic impacts and natural resource damages to Michigan’s economy and could trigger a domino effect of damage disrupting Great Lakes commercial shipping and steel production, slashing jobs, and shrinking the nation’s Gross Domestic Product by $45 billion after just 15 days, according to the nationally respected ecological economist Robert Richardson of Michigan State University.

Enbridge’s workforce includes only 96 Michigan-based permanent and temporary employees and provisioned contractors, while about 800,000 Michigan jobs are tied in some way to the clean water of the Great Lakes. In total, more than 1.5 million U.S. jobs are directly connected to the Great Lakes, generating $62 billion in wages tied to up-north tourism, agriculture, fishing, shipping and related industries, according to Michigan Sea Grant. Enbridge’s proposal to allow electrical lines and other infrastructure to occupy the proposed oil pipeline tunnel is a bad idea opposed by a U.P. electrical supplier and poses an explosion risk. Line 5 is not vital to the people of Michigan. Hard facts. But, knowledge is power. Their full page ads are good for starting bonfires.

Gerry Niedermaier