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Groups Call for Stronger Response in Enbridge Line 5 Saga

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Ruptured segment of Line 6B following the 2010 rupture in Kalamazoo. (NTSF/Flickr)
Ruptured segment of Line 6B following the 2010 rupture in Kalamazoo. (NTSF/Flickr)
 By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI - Producer, Contact
July 23, 2020

LANSING, Mich. - Some water-quality groups say Michigan needs to take a stronger stance against Enbridge for its refusal to assume responsibility for losses related to a Line 5 oil pipeline failure in the Great Lakes.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced yesterday that the pipeline company has not agreed to provide a minimum of $900 million in liability insurance to cover all damages and losses caused to property or individuals due to the operation of the pipelines through the Straits of Mackinac.

Liz Kirkwood, executive director of the advocacy group For Love Of Water (FLOW) says that while financial assurances are nice, they can't keep the Great Lakes whole.

"But ultimately the fate of Line 5 is really a race against time," says Kirkwood. "We're either going to act with the kind of prudence and precaution that we should or we will end up with a catastrophic disaster."

Kirkwood contends Gov. Gretchen Whitmer should begin the legal processes of decommissioning Line 5.

Enbridge pledged to take full responsibility for the cleanup of any incident along its pipeline system, but state leaders are demanding a written commitment.

Kirkwood says this is just the latest development in what she calls "the Enbridge saga," and notes it's happening as Michigan marks the 10th anniversary of the Line 6B spill in the Kalamazoo River.

"It was over $1 billion to clean up just along a 40 mile stretch," says Kirkwood. "And a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes themselves would be unprecedented in terms of the natural resource damage, to the tribal fisheries, to property damage."

Enbridge Line 5 pumps approximately 23 million gallons of oil across four miles of the lake each day.

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