Every day 65-year-old pipelines push nearly 23 million gallons of oil through the heart of the Great Lakes. What if they ruptured?

Aging pipelines owned by Canadian company Enbridge lie exposed in the water at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. These pipelines, called Line 5, were built in 1953 during the Eisenhower administration.

When another Enbridge pipeline ruptured in 2010, it spilled about 1 million gallons of heavy crude oil into the Kalamazoo River.  It was the largest land-based oil spill in U.S. history, and is still being cleaned up. Enbridge’s Line 5  through the Straits of Mackinac is 15 years older than its pipeline that gushed oil into the Kalamazoo River.

Despite assurances they could detect a leak "almost instantaneously," Enbridge initially misdiagnosed the massive spill into the Kalamazoo River, restarting pumps twice and allowing 17 hours to lapse before final shutdown.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency compared their poor handling of the disaster to the bumbling of the “Keystone Kops.”

This was just one of 1,068 Enbridge spills that dumped 7.4 million gallons of oil between 1999 and 2013 -- an average of 71 spills and 500,000 gallons leaked per year. That’s more than one oil spill every week for the last 15 years.

Where will the next Enbridge spill occur?

Map showing locations of previous Enbridge spills in the United States

Major Enbridge Oil Spills

Now it's even more urgent. Enbridge recently increased the flow in their aging Straits of Mackinac pipelines.

In 2013, Enbridge upgraded pumps along Line 5 and increased the product flow under the Straits by 10 percent from 490,000 to 540,000 barrels per day, or 2.1 million gallons per day. 

A recent animated video by the University of Michigan and the National Wildlife Federation shows how devastating an oil spill beneath the Straits of Mackinac would be for the Great Lakes, wildlife, and communities. The animation shows that if an oil spill occurs, oil could reach popular tourist destinations like Mackinac Island, blanket 50 miles of Lake Huron shoreline, and reach Lake Michigan landmarks such as Beaver Island.

The University of Michigan research scientist says that "one million gallons is conservatively the amount of oil that resides in the pipelines in the Straits at any time.”

Watch how spilled oil could spread across the Straits

Pipelines fail. These aging pipelines in the Straits are not worth the risk. We need you to help prevent a disaster.

The State of Michigan has failed to take meaningful action to protect the Great Lakes since this pipeline was rediscovered by the public in 2014. Oil & Water Don't Mix has released a sensible and practical plan to decommission Line 5. Endorse our plan now that calls for the shutdown of Line 5 while preserving the small benefit it provides to Michigan.

Your voice will help build more of the political pressure needed to protect our Great Lakes – above all else.

Sign up to learn more

You can help now.

Add your voice to those working for a clean Great Lakes & healthier economy.


Get updates