THE THREAT – A pair of 62‐year‐old oil pipelines running along the bottom of the Mackinac Straits threaten lasting harm to the Great Lakes, drinking water supplies, fisheries, businesses, public recreation, and the region’s tourist‐driven economy stretching from Lake Michigan’s Beaver Island to Mackinac Island to Rogers City down the Lake Huron shore.
Built in 1953, the pipelines carry nearly 23 million gallons of oil every day through the powerful currents in the Mackinac Straits, about two miles west of the Mackinac Bridge. The pipelines are owned by Enbridge, Inc., the Canadian company responsible for the spill of one million gallons of heavy tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River watershed in 2010.
Nearly 60 percent of all pipeline disasters nationwide are linked to corrosion, welding, material or equipment failures. Campaign experts raise similar corrosion concerns on Line 5, including structural impacts from invasive zebra and quagga mussels on the pipeline exterior. Relying on 1950s technology, the twin oil pipelines also have an outdated protective coating and welds connecting the 40‐foot segments that make up the pipelines, and lack the required number of supports to secure the pipes in the powerful currents of the Straits, the experts found.
Thousands of citizens and dozens of environmental groups, businesses, Indian tribes, and communities support the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign’s goal to protect the Great Lakes from a catastrophic oil spill.