COLUMN: The time to call for the end of Line 5 is now; protect our great lakes

Sam Shriber

I truly fell in love with the Great Lakes on a spontaneous trip to Lake Huron, and the memory is still as beautiful as the waters I dived into. 

It was one of those perfect days, where the sun glistened and filled the air with a pure, irresistible bliss. My grandparents’ had taken me along on an extended weekend trip up North, which, to me, was a realm so tranquil and isolated.

As they parked their Honda Pilot alongside the forgotten road, I was in awe.The crisp sound of the waves, the golden reflections of sunlight and vibrant breeze captivated my soul, and embraced me in the most effortless way. 

To me, the great lakes are Michigan’s greatest blessing. 

According to the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, the United States draws more than 40 billion gallons of water from the Great Lakes daily. 

They provide drinking water to more than 25 million people in the U.S. and Canada, and are home to more than 2,500 different species of nautical plants and animals. 

However, despite their obvious majesty and the populations they serve, they continue to be left in the headlights of danger and massive devastation by the Line 5 Pipeline. 

Line 5 refers to two 20-inch pipelines located beneath the Straits of Mackinac, the setting for some of the most extreme water currents in the Great Lakes. Everyday, 23 million gallons of oil are pumped beneath the meeting place of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, serving as a menacing line between east and west. 

When the pipeline began operations in 1953, it was only supposed to have 50 year lifespan. On April 23, it exceeded its expiration date and reached its 65th anniversary. 

According to the National Wildlife Federation, the largest nonprofit conservation education and advocacy organization in the nation, Line 5 is already faltering beneath the water. 

The nonprofit organization said Line 5 has experienced 29 leakages in the past six decades on its inland sections, which resulted in 1.1 million gallons of gas products and oil being collected in a stretch beginning in Superior, Wisconsin and ending at Sarnia, Ontario. 

If a rupture were to occur, the U.S Coast Guard will not be able to respond to the Straits if weather conditions are windy, dark or if wave heights exceed three feet. In the best scenario of a pipeline rupture, which will require absolutely no ice above the Straits, the agency will only be able to recover 40 percent of water from the Great Lakes. 

Line 5 is owned and operated by Canadian-based oil transport conglomerate, Enbridge Energy, the same company in authority of Line 6B of the Kalamazoo River oil spill in July 2010. 

During this devastation, it took the company 17 hours to stop the flow of oil from the ruptured pipeline. By then, nearly one million gallons of heavy tar sands oil had filled the river and Talmadge Creek, in what is now recognized as the "Dilbit Disaster." 

The call for the shutdown of the Line 5 Pipeline is absolutely necessary to protect the great lakes. 

It is time to endorse the "Oil & Water Don’t Mix: Keep Oil Out of the Great Lakes" campaign by Clean Water Action, which aims to hold both current and future officials accountable for protecting our waters. 

Water is life, and Line 5 will kill it if we don’t become better educated and involved in the fight against it. 


About Samantha Shriber

Samantha Shriber is a staff reporter at Central Michigan Life and is a Saint Clair Shores ...

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