A Pipeline Runs Through It

In this case, “it” is the Great Lakes. Few people, me included, realize that 28,834 miles of hazardous liquid pipelines crisscross the Great Lakes states. On the last day of the 8th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference when hundreds of advocates are energized and poised to get back to the work of restoring the lakes, we hear of a looming threat that lies just beneath the surface. Enbridge Energy owns the aging infrastructure that cuts across the lakes and the states, and to date, there have been more than 80 spills on record.

Some startling statistics to consider:

  • There have been 278 incidents in last 5 years.
  • 3.87 million gallons of oil have been spilled in the last 5 years.
  • Illinois alone has 7,423 miles of pipeline; 86 incidents of oils spills were recorded in the last 5 years; 974,946 gallons of oil spilled in the last 5 years; total property damage – all in all costing approximately more than $79M.

One of the pipelines carries 20mgd of crude oil and natural gas liquids and is lying in open water, unsupported across the Straits of Mackinac. Could a massive oil spill happen if these pipelines burst? Yes, very likely.

Recommendations from the panelists:

  • The Great Lakes Commission and IJC should facilitate discussions among the states and provinces to improve pipeline regulation across the Great Lakes Basin.
  • States should seek certification to regulate intrastate pipelines and to oversee interstate pipelines.
  • States should be monitoring and reporting on the pipelines.

Now more than ever, we are in need of a president who is committed to protecting the Great Lakes. We need someone who believes in doing what’s right for the lakes – someone who is dedicated to improving aging infrastructure across the region, delisting AOCs, restoring the natural divide between Lake Michigan and the Chicago River thereby stopping the threat of Asian Carp, and most importantly supporting continued funding for on-the-ground projects that produce real results for the 30 million people that depend on a healthy Great Lakes.

Kalamazoo River Oil Spill

Kalamazoo River Oil Spill Cleanup. Photo courtesy of k6martini on flickr

Kalamaoo River cleanups_by

Oil on water at Kalamazoo River oil spill. Photo courtesy of k6martini on flickr

Enbridge fractured pipe

Enbridge fractured pipe. Photo courtesy of NWF.

Guest blogger:
Frances Canonizado
Outreach Manager
Alliance for the Great Lakes

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