STRAITS OF MACKINAC, Mich. (WJBK) - Mackinac Island is one of America's great tourist destinations. From the world famous porch of the Grand Hotel to Arch Rock - there's something for everyone on the island.
But there's also something in the water that could put the island and the people who depend on its beauty at risk: a 63-year-old pipe that runs along the Bridge and could threaten the livelihood of island businesses.
The large, old, and still very active pipelines lie underneath the currents and environmentalists predict a potential disaster for the entire state. They start in St. Ignace and then stretch for five miles across the Straits of Mackinac and into Mackinaw City.
The company that owns and operates the pipes, Enbridge, is the same company that was named in the largest inland spill in United States history. 26,200 barrels of crude oil leaked into the Kalamazoo River and the company blames employee error and equipment failure.
Last week, as policymakers huddled on the Island, Line 5 was a hot topic on many minds. That includes the owners of Shepler's Ferry. Chris Shepler owns the company that owns 6 ferries and brings people to and from the island.
His concerns are simple: they're reliant on the body of water to not only provide entertainment but also to provide jobs. If Line 5 ruptured in the straits, what happens to Shepler's?
"If it happens here, it's lights out for not only a lot of companies along the Straits of Mackinac, Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan, but also the way of life. Not only just from a business prospective or an economic prospective, but drinking water and living would be in jeopardy," Shepler said.
Watch more of our web exclusive interview with Shepler in the video above.
Enbridge maintains Line 5 is being properly maintained and monitored. They released this statement to FOX 2:
"We have a response plan, which reflects input from the U.S. Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency, and has been reviewed by Enbridge's federal regulator, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Local emergency first responders and third party spill response organizations are trained on that plan and are on standby should there ever be a need to call on them."
In 2014, Governor Rick Snyder created the Michigan Pipeline Taskforce to investigate Line 5's structural integrity. A decision on whether or not to shut it down has not been reached.