Double the amount of spills than reported on Line 5 says Activist Group

Double the amount of spills than reported on Line 5 says Activist Group
April 26, 2017 Gary Wilson
Photo courtesy of Environmental Protection Agency via Wikimedia

National Wildlife Federation says its Map documents 29 spills and leaks

A pipeline activist group continues to put a spotlight on Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipeline that traverses Michigan including the Straits of Mackinac, one of the most iconic locations in the Great Lakes state.

Image courtesy of nwf.org

National Wildlife Federation Logo, courtesy of nwf.org

The National Wildlife Federation in a press release this week said the pipeline that spans Michigan has had “29 known spills.” That’s almost double the number that was previously believed to have occurred, according to the federation.

The federation developed a map using data sourced from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to document spills, leaks and how they were discovered going back to 1968, Beth Wallace told Great Lakes Now. Wallace is the federation’s pipeline safety specialist.

PHMSA oversees transportation of energy and hazardous materials as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The information on the map has been available but cannot be easily found by or is it easily accessible to the public, federation spokesman Drew YoungeDyke told Great Lakes Now.

The federation expressed concern that only one of the 29 incidents was detected by a remote detection system. Fifteen were detected by local personnel or the public, according to the federation.

Photo courtesy of nwf.org

Stress corrosion cracking the length of the longitudinal seam on a section of Line 5, courtesy of nwf.org

“This new information causes us grave concern about the integrity of the inland pipe system, inconsistencies with spill reporting, and the effectiveness of leak detection systems, repair methods, and long-term planning for the integrity of the decades-old pipeline system,” Wallace said.

The federation said it did not have information on how Line 5’s reliability compares to similar pipelines.

“We do report any releases” Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy told Great Lakes Now commenting on the National Wildlife Federation’s report.

Duffy said “over the past fifteen years, there have been three incidents on Line 5 that have resulted in a total of approximately 21 barrels (882 gallons) of product being released off the mainline.  All of the product released during these three incidents was recovered.”

He said that “there has never been an incident along Line 5 at the Straits.”

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Melody Kindraka told Great Lakes Now that the department appreciates “the National Wildlife Federation’s interest in protecting the Great Lakes and preserving our natural resources.”

Kindraka said the information provided by the federation is “historical and will be shared with the independent researchers conducting risk and the alternative analyses.”

Michigan has an advisory board that provides counsel to the state on pipeline safety issues.

The National Wildlife Federation first put a spotlight on Enbridge’s Straits of Mackinac portion of the pipeline in 2013. Since, the Sierra Club, FLOW and others have joined showing their concern for the reliability of the 64 year old line.

Enbridge’s Duffy said the company needs to meet Michigan’s energy needs and to do that it has to … “ensure Enbridge’s pipeline network is operating safely.” He said Enbridge is focusing on safety tests and maintenance for Line 5 this summer.


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