While Mother Nature is facing imminent threats from thousands, if not tens of thousands of sources every single day, some of these threats are far worse than others. Oil spills, nuclear facility accidents, and pollution, in general, are some of the most dangerous anthropocentric threats seen by our floating blue space rock.
So of course, we’re doing our best to limit our potential impact on the environment. Or at least we should, as there are cases in which it’s obvious that nothing other than human pride, convenience or simple inattentiveness led to some of the worst ecological disasters in history. And all of them could have easily been prevented.
According to a new study from the University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute, the Great Lakes shoreline faces ecological disaster if pipeline breaks. The pipeline in question, Line 5, is owned by Enbridge, the same company responsible for the biggest inland oil spill in United States history, back in 2010.
The July 2010 incident was purely the company’s fault, as Enbridge didn’t take the necessary precautions to make sure that nothing along the lines of what ended up happening would happen. Back then we were faced with an environmental nightmare, as 35 square miles of the Kalamazoo River were quickly polluted by oil.
And it seems like the company hasn’t actually learned its lesson, as Line 5, the oil pipeline passing through the Straits of Mackinac, was revealed by the National Wildlife Federation in 2013 not to be properly maintained. Even worse, not even the basic safety guidelines are being followed, with the pipe lacking many of its necessary supports.
In case of something bad happening to the pipeline, a thing that would be by no means outlandish, some sixty percent of Lake Huron’s open water, as well as some fifteen percent of Lake Michigan’s would have visible oil present on the surface. The shoreline would be in even bigger danger, with up to 720 miles of coast having the potential of being horribly affected by a spill.
Multiple groups, including city and state officials, are attempting to get the company to shut down the pipeline. They believe it should be permanently decommissioned, mostly because the tremendous risk the Great Lakes are facing is nowhere near worth the benefits of the pipeline passing through – it’s not even providing oil for the area, instead going north to Canada.
Even though the company claims it’s taking better of the pipe than everybody else believes they do, and that the chances of an accident actually happening are quite small, it’s quite obvious that the risk to the great trove of natural resources that is the Great Lakes are is not worth it. So, the efforts aimed at having Line 5 closed for good will most likely continue.
Image source: Wikimedia