Waves of Worry: Enbridge Line 5 report
LANSING, Mich. (SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP) - A big report will be released this summer on how big of a risk Enbridge’s line 5 pipeline poses to the Great Lakes.
As we wait to see the results of the report and the future of the pipeline, Political Reporter Nick Minock investigated who would pick up the tab if line 5 were to rupture right now.
Enbridge officials give us assurance that line 5 pipeline is safe and won't break.
Brian Butts, a charter boat Captain, said, "I've been fishing all over the world."
Every morning Butts wakes up, he said he is amazed by Lake Michigan.
"The only thing you see that even compares to it is an ocean."
His Grand Haven charter business relies on tourism to stay afloat, which means he is well aware of what threatens the Great Lakes and one of those threats is a potential rupture of Enbridge's line 5 pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac.
Butts said, "A rupture of that pipe would be huge."
A pipeline that carries oils and liquids that are later refined into propane.
State Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said, “Mackinaw Island would no longer be a tourist destination. It would be wiped out."
So would 700 miles of shoreline, according to a University of Michigan study.
Jones said Enbridge needs to reroute the 60-year-old pipeline.
He said, "An Enbridge line, the same exact age, burst down there by Marshal, Michigan and flooded the Kalamazoo River. Billion dollars plus in damage. My own mother-in-law had to sell her house to Enbridge."
Enbridge sunk in $1.3 billion for repairs and revival of the Kalamazoo River.
The company says it would take full responsibility if line 5 also broke.
But what insurance does the company have on the 645-mile pipeline?
We found in 2014 that an Enbridge executive said it wouldn't be cost effective to have more than $700 million in environmental insurance, but opponents say a underwater pipeline burst would cost much more.
State Representative Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, said, “You cannot rebuild businesses that go out of business for the fishing industry, the boating industry, the tourism industry."
Lucido said what is alarming is Michigan doesn't require more than $1 million of insurance on line 5, according to a 1953 agreement, when the pipeline was constructed.
Lucido said, “I have more liability insurance on my home and my auto than they do on their pipeline."
When the risk analysis comes out this summer, we are expecting a discussion on if Michigan should require more than $1 million of insurance on line 5.
Butts said, “I'm sure they do have an insurance policy, but can the damage be fixed with money?"
For Captain Butts, it's not all about money.
He said, "Most of the things that happen in this lake can't be fixed with money. It takes time."
And time is priceless.