GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac has been the focus of protesters and environmentalists for years. The pipeline turned 65 years old on Monday, and to mark that date groups across Michigan gathered to urge shutdown of the line.
Concerned citizens showed up at Grand Rapids Brewing Company for what they called a Line 5 Retirement Party, one of 32 events held in Michigan cities to try to send a message to Enbridge.
“Michiganders know that Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes are really important resources, both for our health, for our economic stability in the state," said Anne Marie Hertl of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. "We know that Line 5 is a threat to that. Any kind of oil spill in the Great Lakes would be a threat to that.”
“I would say that a complete shutdown is absolutely necessary at this point in time. The pipeline is 15 years past its estimated lifetime,” said Autumn Sands, who was involved in organizing the Grand Rapids party.
“All of the evidence that we have shows that there’s corrosion, that there’s damage, that there’s zebra muscles all over the pipeline," said Sands. "It’s not a matter of 'if' at this point, it’s really a matter of 'when.'" Says Sands.
Concerns over a potential oil spill in the Great Lakes is fueling opposition to the pipeline. Last year, the pipeline’s owner Enbridge found gaps in the pipe’s protective coating.
The highlight of Monday’s event was a live video feed from Traverse City that all 32 locations viewed at the same time. It included guest speakers and a panel discussing the pipeline.
FOX 17 News reached out to Enbridge about Monday’s multi-state meetings. The company released a statement saying in part,
“Enbridge is committed to safely operating Line 5 well into the future, and our focus is on the agreement with the state of Michigan. We hope Michigan residents find peace of mind in knowing the seven actions contained within the agreement are designed to enhance safety as well as protection of the Great Lakes."
The seven actions mentioned by Enbridge include temporarily shutting down the line when weather conditions create waves more than eight feet high and putting extra measures in place to avoid boat anchors from hitting the pipeline.