Wednesday, September 15, 2010

McDowell urges regulators to protect Great Lakes from Enbridge pipeline repairs under Mackinac Straits

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. -- As a congressional hearing in Washington today highlights the failures of Enbridge Energy Partners that led to a 1 million gallon oil spill this summer along the Kalamazoo River, State Representative Gary McDowell, a candidate for Congress in Michigan’s First District, called on federal and state regulators to take precautions to ensure northern Michigan and the Great Lakes are not jeopardized as Enbridge repairs its pipeline that runs along the bottom of the Great Lakes through the Mackinac Straits. Scheduled repairs to the pipeline running along the lake bottom could begin as early as Friday.

"Enbridge has a history of negligence not just in Michigan but across its pipeline system in the Great Lakes region, making it clear that state and federal regulators need to apply additional scrutiny as the company prepares to perform work on its pipeline through the Mackinac Straits," McDowell said.

"An oil spill from a pipeline rupture through the Mackinac Straits could be devastating for the health of the Great Lakes and the thousands of jobs that rely on them," McDowell continued. "Regulators must take every possible precaution to prevent this from happening, including requiring Enbridge to stop oil flow through the section of pipeline running through the Straits while repairs are being performed. If Enbridge officials won’t take this common-sense precaution to protect our Great Lakes on their own, then federal and state regulators must make them do so."

Enbridge plans to add support structures to its underwater pipeline running through the Straits. Work is scheduled to begin Friday and last 10 to 30 days. The pipeline is more than 50 years old and runs along the lake bottom through the Mackinac Straits, which reaches a depth of almost 300 feet.

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