SAULT STE. MARIE TRIBE OF CHIPPEWA INDIANS
SAULT STE. MARIE, MICH. — In the wake of recent revelations from Enbridge of at least two gaps in the protective coating on its embattled twin oil pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Chairperson Aaron Payment called on the state to shut off the oil.
Payment said, “Until a truly independent safety review is carried out, we need to stop the oil. We cannot trust Enbridge’s blanket assurances. This is only the most recent of numerous safety violations, violations of the terms of the easement, that we keep hearing about.”
Under the terms of the easement Enbridge has with the state of Michigan, the pipes must be anchored at specified intervals, against the strains of shifting sand, currents, etc., that would cause the pipes to fatigue over the decades of operation.
Recent revelations that some of the specified anchors were never installed and others had broken over decades of use and neglect, raised alarm bells. Enbridge has recently replaced anchors and placed new ones as part of a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency over its conduct in the Kalamazoo oil spill disaster.
Now Enbridge has reported that inspections of those anchors show two and possibly more areas where the enamel coating, intended to prevent corrosion of the steel pipe, has been knocked off. Enbridge cannot say whether accidents during anchor installation are the cause, or whether other areas are also affected, and it intends to carry out more inspection.
“Enbridge repeatedly tells us this line is safe,” Payment said. “However, no independent analysis of its safety has ever been required by the state of Michigan. The health of the Great Lakes is too important to leave in the hands of a company whose approach to safety has been likened to ‘Keystone Kops’.”
Payment said, “We agree with Attorney General Bill Schuette when he said we need ‘a timeline to close Line 5, with a defined plan to ensure that Michigan residents in the UP have reliable access to propane and protect our lakes with sound science and modern regulatory policy.’ But until then, we need to stop the flow of oil in these dangerous lines at least until an independent safety review is carried out.”
“The lines will be 65 years old next spring,” Payment added. “Let’s talk retirement.”