Pipeline Under Lake Michigan May Be Leaking

In 2010, a pipeline owned by Enbridge leaked over 800,000 gallons of tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River. One of my reporters for the Michigan Messenger, Eartha Melzer, tracked all the pipelines crossing the state and found on that goes right under the Mackinac Bridge in Lake Michigan/Huron. That pipeline now has a “pinhole leak.”

A pinhole leak in a controversial petroleum pipeline running through the Upper Peninsula released an undetermined amount of natural gas liquid that dispersed into the atmosphere north of Manistique, near the Indian River, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Tuesday.

A spokesman for Canadian oil transport giant Enbridge, which operates the Line 5 pipeline, however, said it was not a leak, but a “pinhole-sized defect, observed in the weld of the pipe,” during a planned investigation of the pipeline Dec. 8…

Enbridge transports light crude oil, light synthetic crude, and natural gas liquids through the line.

“This small leak is a wake-up call,” said David Holtz,chair of the Michigan Chapter of the nonprofit Sierra Club. State and federal agencies should publicly disclose the full extent of potential environmental threats from the pipeline, he added, and open a public debate “about whether the threat to our state’s waters and land are too great a risk to take.”

Enbridge spokesman Jason Manshum said the weld defect “created a small, dime-sized stain on the pipe,” and that there was “no impact from the release to the air or the soil.” Regulators were notified when the planned pipeline repair met reporting criteria, he said.

Do I trust Enbridge on this? Hell no. They were the ones who allowed the biggest inland oil spill in American history. They were the ones who filed the wrong MSDS sheets on the oil that spilled, causing far more damage because the EPA was taking the wrong approach to containing the oil as a result. I don’t trust them even a tiny little bit. And if a big leak develops at the bottom of Lake Michigan in one of the state’s most pristine areas and biggest tourist attractions, we’re in serious trouble.

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  • some bastard on the internet

    “This small leak is a wake-up call,” said David Holtz

    Big leaks, on the other hand? More like a snooze button.

  • moarscienceplz

    A spokesman for Canadian oil transport giant Enbridge, which operates the Line 5 pipeline, however, said it was not a leak, but a “pinhole-sized defect”

    Huh. I always thought a hole in a pipe that lets the inside stuff out or the outside stuff in was in fact the very definition of a leak, but I guess they changed that after I left school.

  • Larry

    I blame Obama.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    A spokesman for Canadian oil transport giant Enbridge, which operates the Line 5 pipeline, however, said it was not a leak, but a “pinhole-sized defect, observed in the weld of the pipe,”…

    If it’s leaking contents, it’s a leak.

    Enbridge spokesman Jason Manshum said the weld defect “created a small, dime-sized stain on the pipe,”

    Dime-sized? That’s way bigger than pinhole-sized.

  • dean

    I blame Obama

    You jest, but in the comment section of Mlive (on line newspaper) where this story ran several people did in fact blame the president and environmentalists for making it too expensive to do repairs and place new pipes.

    The U/M Water Center has looked at what could happen if the pipeline in Lake Michigan leaded. Their white paper

    can be found here:

    http://graham.umich.edu/media/files/mackinac-report.pdf

  • busterggi

    “And if a big leak develops at the bottom of Lake Michigan in one of the state’s most pristine areas and biggest tourist attractions, we’re in serious trouble.”

    That we will not include Enbridge and they know it.

  • Numenaster

    Based on this section of the OP, it sounds like the weld was in a part of the pipeline that is not under the lake. The spokesman said

    dispersed into the atmosphere north of Manistique, near the Indian River

  • grumpyoldfart

    I wonder how many politicians have just been given a sniff of the Enbridge lobby money.

  • John Hinkle

    Great Lakes’ water, one of the best supplies in the world. Lotta Democrats around that supply. Just sayin’.