It was a unanimous vote.
On Monday, September 18th, Michigan’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board (PSAB) recommended that the state contract a team of academic experts lead by Dr. Guy Meadows to complete a risk analysis study on the safety of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline which runs underneath the Straits of Mackinac.
Meadows, Director of the Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Technological University and a current member of the PSAB, says he will contact other Michigan universities, including the University of Michigan and Western Michigan University, to form a team of research experts in multiple disciplines required to complete the study.
Dr. Meadows says he will resign from the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board to avoid a conflict of interest.
There have been many questions about the safety of the 64 year old pipeline recently, especially since late August when Enbridge acknowledged that several sections of bare metal were possibly exposed as a result of human error from previous anchor installations.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Public Information Officer Melody Kindraka tells Great Lakes Now: “We are looking forward to getting the analysis completed.”
The Enbridge-owned pipeline carries about 23 million gallons of oil a day from Sarnia, Ontario to Superior, Wisconsin.
4.5 miles of the pipeline runs under the water from Michigan’s Lower to Upper Peninsula just west of the Mackinac Bridge.
Two studies were commissioned by the state last year to determine the risk of Line 5 and present alternatives to the pipeline which was built in 1953. The state terminated the risk analysis in June after the original contractor – Det Norte Veritas (DNV) – had a conflict of interest because of ongoing work with Enbridge.
The other study, the alternatives analysis, performed by Dynamic Risk, was presented to the board in July. It was criticized on several fronts, especially for neglecting to address a worst-case scenario oil spill.
This new risk analysis lead by Dr. Meadows will take place over a six month period.
Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center and member of the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, Mike Shriberg, says, “This is a positive step in getting the state the actionable information it needs to decommission Line 5. Engaging top academic minds will ensure that Michigan’s residents and resources will be prioritized.”
Kindraka tells Great Lakes Now, “We want a thorough review of everything along that pipeline. Our concern is about Enbridge’s stewardship.”