Proactive stance on potential oil spill a good idea

Mention the word “Enbridge” and you might be met with a look of consternation.

Enbridge Energy in 2010 reported a 30-inch pipeline rupture near Marshall that released 843,000 gallons of oil into Talmadge Creek, which flowed into the Kalamazoo River. The spill was contained about 80 river miles from Lake Michigan, although Enbridge had to perform a massive cleanup.

Enbridge, based in Calgary, Alberta, owns twin oil pipelines where lakes Huron and Michigan converge. Recently the company said it will spend $7 million over the next two years on additional equipment that could be deployed in the case of a spill.

However, Enbridge insists there’s only a remote chance the equipment ever will be needed.

Maybe so, but being proactive is justified in this instance.

The equipment would include containment and skimming devices, which would help crews recover oil quickly in open water and during icy conditions on the Straits of Mackinac.

Line 5 carries nearly 23 million gallons of light crude oil and liquefied natural gas every day. Understandably, many elected officials have raised concerns about Line 5, with environmental groups wanting the 63-year-old pipeline shut down or rerouted away from the straits area.

An oil spill, which would be bad news for about any area, would have particularly devastating effects should it happen near the Straits of Mackinac, which includes hundreds of miles of U.S. and Canadian shoreline.

The company, though, said it has a crew permanently based in St. Ignace, and is stockpiling floating barriers than can contain and absorb oil.

It also said it’s ordering custom-made devices for the straits area, which can be towed to where they’re needed, suck up contaminated water and remove the oil for offloading to another vessel.

According to Enbridge, that would prevent the oil from landing on shorelines and sensitive areas.

After all, who wants to see rare plants covered in contaminated water or oil?

We hope the equipment never has to be used, but are glad to see Enbridge is being proactive in the event of a spill, which already has happened under its watch.

– Marquette Mining Journal