Skip to main content

When a ruptured pipeline spilled 20,000 barrels of oil into a North Dakota wheat field last month, a state health official said it was “the best place it could’ve occurred” — far from population centers and water supplies.

But what if a similar spill occurs in the worst place?

lake view photo straits-of-mackinac-458x304_zps93b5b72a.jpg

(Photo by Joel Dinda via Creative Commons)

As pipeline concerns mount, focus returns to the Great Lakes

In the cold, fast-flowing depths of the Straits of Mackinac run pipelines which the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) says could pose a dire threat to the Great Lakes and the beloved tourist culture of nearby Mackinac Island.

And while Enbridge, which operates the pipelines, says it’s taking rigorous measures to prevent such a disaster, advocates and pipeline experts say a lack of transparency coupled with the company’s checkered safety record leave them unconvinced. Enbridge is the same company whose pipeline in Marshall, Michigan spilled more than 23,000 barrels of heavy tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River in July 2010 – the largest onshore oil spill in U.S. history.

The ongoing cleanup of that spill, along with the recent North Dakota incident, have elevated worries that current regulations and industry safeguards aren’t strong enough to prevent another disaster.  The NWF video highlights what the group describes as “broken supports” around the pipeline – pieces of metal looking like big broken staples, and in NWF’s view, indicating evidence of corrosion that could also affect the pipeline itself.

The video also tracks lengths of “unsupported pipeline” – where the pipeline is suspended above the lake floor and could be under greater stress from the current, the weight of encrusted debris or the impact of dropping boat anchors or other foreign objects.  

diver photo pipeline-diver_zpsc2174d8f.jpg
A diver points out rusted metal bands on an oil pipeline beneath the Straits of Mackinac in this image taken from a video produced by the National Wildlife Federation. Enbridge says the bands are from construction and do not impact the pipeline’s safety.

Given the swift and fluctuating currents of the stretch separating Michigan’s Lower and Upper peninsulas not far from the Canadian border, the report says:

A large oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac could potentially spread across vast areas of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. A far-reaching oil slick that spread into Lake Huron could also affect Georgian Bay, one of the most vibrant freshwater ecosystems on the planet. “The wind would literally change direction every few minutes,” said Wallace, meaning in the case of a spill, “the weather would hinder any kind of recovery effort. Especially in winter, they might not even get out there.”

Straight of Mackinac photo mackinac-spill-map-460x292_zps47de2e10.png

This map produced by the National Wildlife Federation estimates the extent to which oil might flow from a pipeline rupture beneath the Straits of Mackinac.
This article is from MIDWEST ENERGY NEWS.  I contacted them for permission to use the article and photos, and they said the article is licensed Creative Commons so please feel free to repost in its entirety.  I hope you will click on the link and read the entire article.  There's a whole lot more that I didn't include; and while you are there, please  sign up for their newsletter.  One more thing.   They are looking for qualified freelance writers.  check it out

Write for us
We’re always looking for qualified freelance writers. Send your resume and clips to editor Ken Paulman at paulman@fresh-energy.org. No phone calls, please.

Originally posted to dkmich on Fri Oct 25, 2013 at 02:11 PM PDT.

Also republished by Motor City Kossacks, Climate Change SOS, and Michigan, My Michigan.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site