Oil Spills and the Future for the Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline

 

Oil Spills and the Future for the Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline

Liam Michael Miziolek McIlroy

Environmental Geology Denison University December 12th, 2016

 

Abstract

Oil Spills and the Future for the Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline

Currently the State of Michigan is facing yet another major environmental issue. Climate activists and concerned citizens alike have taken special interest in an aging oil pipeline, known officially as Line 5. Enbridge, a Canadian oil pipeline company, owns and operates what is in actuality two parallel pipelines that run beneath the Straights of Mackinac. In 2017, the pipeline will celebrate 63 years of operation, however, at the time of its construction it received a life expectancy of 50 years. Aside from exceeding its recommended lifespan by over a decade, independent research conducted by the NWF discovered structural flaws at multiple points along the pipeline, further fueling the argument that inaction over these concerns could have devastating consequences on the Great Lakes ecosystem. Dr. David Schwab from the University of Michigan’s Water Center conducted over 800 computer simulations mapping out the the extent of oil spreading in the event of a rupture in the pipeline. His research concluded that the best case scenario would still result in over 1.5 million gallons of oil spilled. In the event of a spill mitigation techniques include (1) chemical treatment; (2) in situ burning; (3) mechanical recovery and (4) bioremediation.

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