Aging underwater oil pipelines draw concerns

A n aging oil pipeline buried below the Straits of Mackinac have local environmentalists preparing to protest.

An aging oil pipeline buried below the Straits of Mackinac have local environmentalists preparing to protest.

More than a half dozen environmental groups including the Michigan Land Use Institute

and TC 350

out of Traverse City plan to rally in St. Ignace this weekend.

"What we are asking of Governor Snyder is that he require Enbridge, the oil company, to immediately replace this old pipeline with the best and safest technology available," Michigan Environmental Council member Kate Madigan said.

Members of TC 350

say they are concerned about the Enbridge pipeline after reading a report by the National Wildlife Federation.

"This exhaustive report really flagged this issue about these aging pipelines that are running under the Straits of Mackinac," Activist Bill Latka said.

Environmental a

ctivists believe the two oil pipelines that go from St. Ignace to Mackinaw City could fail.

They say the oil company plans on increasing the pressure throughout the pipe to pump more oil and they believe the 62-year-old pipes aren't stable enough to handle it.

"If there was an oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac, it would decimate the fisheries, the tourism industry, especially Mackinac Island which is directly in the path of the oil spill," Latka said.

A Enbridge representative tells 7&4 News that the pipes running under the Straits will not see an increase in pressure.

In fact, the pressure boost will happen at refineries in Rapid City and West Branch, but the amount of oil going through the pipes underwater will increase.

"I know they are doing constant maintenance updates on the pipeline," St. Ignace Fire Chief Bryce Tracy said. "Whether they be valve controls monitoring devices or doing preventative maintenance checks on the pipeline, we are aware that they do do those based off of our communications with them in the past."

The St. Ignace Fire Department and the Coast Guard regularly work with Enbridge on making sure the pipe is up to safety standards.

"They reach out and come visit with emergency response and emergency management folks within the area regarding emergencies that could happen in or around the Enbridge pipelines," Chief Tracy explained.

The Oil Doesn't Mix with Water Rally is scheduled for Sunday at noon. Protestors will meet at the Bridge View park in St. Ignace.