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?