Skip to content

The Council renews call for Line 5 underwater pipeline to be shut down following anchor damage

The Council of Canadians is renewing its call for the 540,000 barrel per day Line 5 light crude pipeline – that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet – to be shut down.

Michigan Radio now reports, “It appears that a ship dropped an anchor in the no-anchor zone, and may be responsible for causing the damage on both Line 5 and the electric cables.”

The Detroit Free Press further explains, “The same ‘vessel activity’ that appears to have damaged submerged electric cables in the Straits of Mackinac last week, causing a leak of 550 gallons of benzene-containing coolant, may have also caused three dents just discovered in the Line 5 oil and natural gas liquids pipeline, also underwater where lakes Michigan and Huron connect.”

CBC adds, “The eight-kilometre-wide waterway, which connects Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, is used heavily by ships that haul iron ore, coal, limestone and other bulk cargo, and by recreational boats.”

MLive notes, “In response to a series of questions from [US Senator Gary] Peters [at a committee hearing] on Thursday, U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Linda Fagan admitted she did not have many details about the ongoing investigation into the cause of the [electric cable coolant] spill. Fagan did confirm Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 oil and gas pipelines are still in operation, despite the damage.”

When asked by Senator Peters if the Coast Guard was “fully confident” in the decision by the state to allow Line 5 to continue despite the damage to it, Fagan responded the Coast Guard’s role in coordinating a spill response does not include determining whether the pipeline should continue operation.

Maude Barlow has stated, “A March 2016 study found that 1,160 kilometres of shoreline in the U.S. and Canada are considered potentially vulnerable to a Line 5 spill. There are many Indigenous territories around the lakes and the St. Lawrence River Basin with governance and treaty rights, who will also be affected if there’s a spill. Under the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples, governments are required to obtain free, prior and informed consent from Indigenous peoples decisions or projects affecting water in their traditional territories – just like the Line 5 pipeline.”

The Council of Canadians fully supports our Traverse City-based ally FLOW’s demand that “the State of Michigan terminate the easement allowing Enbridge to use Lake Michigan’s lakebed for the pipelines.” FLOW highlights, “The state has the authority and the responsibility to do so to prevent a catastrophic oil spill.”

The Council of Canadians first called on Michigan and Ontario to shut down the pipeline in November 2013.