Safety questions raised about oil pipeline in straits of Mackinac

The debate heats up over a controversial oil pipeline running through the straits of Mackinac.
State officials unveiling their report today, aimed at preventing an oil spill but critics say they want to see more.

Two top state officials issued a report today aimed at preventing an oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac.But the environmental lobby was quick to denounce many of the recommendations. 

For over a year the state attorney general and the department of environmental quality have reviewed the safety of a pipeline that runs underneath the straits of Mackinac.

Environmentalists complain the 60-year-old pipeline Number Five should be shut down to avert a possible leak or rupture.

The Enbridge company which operates the line has assured state officials the line is safe.  But is it?

"The pipeline is safer today because of these recommendations," said Attorney General Bill Schuette.

The DEQ director says he needs to know more about the pipeline safety.

"The pipeline has operated safely for 61 years," said Dan Wyant, DEQ director. "But we need to know more to assure that we don't have a problem going forward."

The report calls for Enbridge to supply more data on pipeline inspections and related issues which to date, the company has not provided. 

The report also recommends that no heavy crude oil flows through the line. 

But come to find out, the company never did that anyway.

"That first recommendation of the report is very disappointing," said State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) "They're proposing to do absolutely nothing. We need to get some inspections and re-route that traffic to a less sensitive area."

Schuette argues the ban on crude prevents a spill.

"We've made sure with additional safety precaution that it doesn't happen," he said. "It could have happened prior to this but now it's not. Wyant and Schuette are saying no."

The green lobby does like the fact that the state will explore alternative routes for the lighter oil that flows through the straits of Mackinac now.