Is Enbridge’s worst case scenario for a spill accurate?

Enbridge Line 5 Straits of Mackinac 072215_111054

ST. IGNACE, Mich. (WOOD) — If the pipeline running under the Straits of Mackinac broke, Enbridge says the “worst case scenario” would cost between $450 million and $1 billion to clean up, depending on the time of year the spill happened.

That’s according to a series of documents released Friday by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

However, there are questions as to how accurate the company’s spill estimate is.

Enbridge’s “worst case scenario” of a spill in the Straits of Mackinac is smaller than the 2010 oil spill into the Kalamazoo River when the company’s 6B pipeline burst.

The estimate from Enbridge assumes 8,583 barrels of oil will leak, which is less than half the amount of oil that spilled into the Kalamazoo River in 2010.

Enbridge also estimated cleaning up the worst case scenario spill would take “4 to 9 months, based on seasonal conditions followed by one year of remedial assessment and 5 years of post‐cleanup monitoring.”

That’s a fraction of the time and money Enbridge has spent cleaning up the spill in the Kalamazoo River watershed – more than $1.2 billion and work is not yet over.

The estimate, prepared for Enbridge by LP Environment US in June 2014, admits that “A release impacting the shoreline would significantly increase costs and extend the duration of the clean‐up.”

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office said the goal of releasing the documents Friday was to protect the Great Lakes.

“We are currently reviewing proposals for our own risk and alternatives analysis to have a full picture of the pipelines,” added spokeswoman Andrea Bitely.

In response to the report, Enbridge sent the following statement to 24 Hour News 8:

“Enbridge is continuing to work closely with the State of Michigan to make sure state officials have the information they need regarding Line 5 and its continued safe operations under the Straits of Mackinac. The documents posted online by the Michigan Attorney General are not new, but rather information that we provided to the State in 2014 and again in 2016. These documents are also available at Some of the information in the documents, including numbers associated with clean-up of a worst case discharge, will continue to be updated as we add new layers of safety to our work in the Straits.We fully understand that Michigan residents continue to need information on Line 5 and everything we do to make sure the line operates safely. And as with previous requests for information about our operations, Enbridge was pleased to cooperate with the State of Michigan and provide them with this information to demonstrate that Line 5 is safe to continue operating, supporting Michigan’s economy and its citizens with vital supplies of petroleum products to fuel Michigan’s quality of life.”


Online:Straits of Mackinac pipeline clean-up cost summaryMichigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force

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