Senators want temporary halt of oil flow through Great Lakes pipelines over possible damage
Michigan's two senators called Friday for temporarily shutting down twin oil pipelines in a sensitive Great Lakes waterway that may have been damaged by a ship anchor strike, which also is suspected in the leak of coolant fluid from nearby electric cables.
With an underwater inspection planned for early next week, Democratic Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow said oil should not continue flowing through Enbridge Inc.'s Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac until it's certain the pipes are in good shape. A wintry storm bearing down on the area made the situation more perilous, Peters said.
"Upcoming blizzard conditions and high winds pose a threat to the already-damaged pipeline and even worse would render on-site cleanup equipment ineffective in the event of an oil spill," he said. "We simply cannot afford that kind of risk to Michigan's most precious natural resource."
Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy said the Canadian company was monitoring the situation and "should the weather deteriorate to a point where we are concerned about the ability for our personnel to respond to an incident, we will temporarily shut down."
Line 5 carries about 23 million gallons of crude oil and liquefied natural gas daily between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario. The segment that crosses the 5-mile-wide (8-kilometer-wide) straits linking Lakes Huron and Michigan is divided into two side-by-side pipes that were laid on the lake bottom in 1953.
Enbridge used mechanical tools to inspect their interi....