pdf Sunken Hazzards_NWF

Sunken hazard: Aging oil pipelines beneath the Straits of Mackinac an ever-present threat to the Great Lakes

Authors: Jeff Alexander1, Beth Wallace2

Author Affiliation: 1J. Alexander Communications, 2National Wildlife Federation

Journal: National Wildlife Federation Report; 2012

Abstract: Just west of the Mackinac Bridge, below the water’s surface, lie two pipelines, called Line 5, that carry a total of 20 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas fluids each day from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario. The pipelines were placed in the Straits of Mackinac in 1953—the year President Dwight Eisenhower took office and one year before McDonald’s opened its first burger joint.

If either of those pipelines leaked, the resulting oil slick would likely devastate some of the lakes’ most bountiful fisheries, wildlife refuges, municipal drinking water supplies and one of the region’s most popular tourist attractions: Mackinac Island. A significant rupture would cause an Exxon-Valdez scale oil spill spreading through Lakes Huron and Michigan, the heart of the largest freshwater seas in the world.