Enbridge Line 5 Pipelines

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What's New on Line 5?

The already suffering credibility of Enbridge Energy took another hit when the state announced the company knew of damage to coatings on its Line 5 pipelines three years before disclosing it to the state. The news release issued Friday by state agencies expressed serious concerns about the company’s failure to be transparent with state regulators.

The state’s concerns further undermine the public’s trust in the company, which has consistently withheld information and demonstrated poor stewardship in its management of the pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac.

Once again, FLOW is calling on the state to decommission the pipeline to prevent a catastrophic oil spill that could damage a huge swath of the Great Lakes.

The Threat

Every day, nearly 23 million gallons of oil and natural gas liquids flow through Enbridge's "Line 5," a pair of aging pipelines just west of the Mackinac Bridge. Line 5, which starts in Superior, Wisconsin and splits into two pipes as it cuts through the Mackinac Straits on its way to refineries in Sarnia, Ontario, threatens the drinking water supply for 5 million Michigan residents and the Pure Michigan economy. Line 5 has failed 29 times since 1968, spilling at least 1.13 million gallons of oil. It is time for the state to evict Enbridge from the Mackinac Straits and shut down Line 5 because of the danger its oil pipelines pose to the Great Lakes.

Map courtesy of Sierra Club

Quick Facts

  • University of Michigan studies call the Mackinac Straits the "worst possible place" for a Great Lakes oil spill, which could pollute up to 720 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
  • Enbridge's data reveal that sections of Line 5 in the Mackinac Straits are cracked and dented, and a segment on land near the Straits has lost 26% of its original wall thickness.
  • Under the best conditions, only 30% of an oil spill would be recovered.
  • 1.5 million jobs are directly tied in some way to the Great Lakes, generating more than $62 billion in wages. 

Enbridge's Easement Violations

FLOW has revealed that Enbridge is operating illegally and has broken its easement agreement with the state and people of Michigan in the following ways:

  1. Standard of Care as a Reasonably Prudent Person (Section A)
  2. Indemnity Provision (Section J)
  3. Pipeline Wall Thickness Provision (Section A (11))
  4. Pipeline Exterior Slats and Coating Requirements (Section A (9))
  5. Pipeline Minimum Curvature Requirement (Section A (4))
  6. Maximum Unsupported Span Provision (Section A (10))
  7. Federal Violation of Emergency Oil Spill Response Plan (Section A)
  8. State Violation under the Michigan Environmental Protection Action (Section A)


Read the Full Report here.

Alternatives Exist

FLOW's December 2015 expert report demonstrates that decommissioning the Line 5 oil pipeline would not disrupt Michigan's or the Midwest's crude oil and propane supply, as only 5-10% of the oil in Line 5 is used in Michigan. Available capacity to meet energy demand in the Great Lakes region already exists in the North American pipeline system. Check out our Alternatives Fact Sheet below for more information.

FLOW and our partners are working together to ensure that the State of Michigan is held accountable as public trustee of our waters to take immediate action to prevent a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes.

Printable Line 5 Fact Sheets

Related Links

Line 5 Fact Sheet

Line 5 Alternatives Fact Sheet

Line 5 Propane Fact Sheet

Recent Posts

A Collection of Line 5 Films

FLOW partnered with Patagonia to create the short film Great Lakes, Bad Lines, which takes a first-hand look at the insurmountable threat that Line 5 poses to our waters. 

Click here to watch at home, or plan a screening. 

Immiscible: The Fight Over Line 5 explores the growing tension between water activists and big oil companies. The film features interviews from leading organizations in the fight to decommission Enbridge Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac, members of indigenous communities at risk, concerned residents, as well as Enbridge Energy’s public response to this conflict. This film was created by four Michigan State University students (Olivia Dimmer, Daniel Stephens, Austin Torres, & Annette Kim) in the College of Communication Arts & Sciences, Department of Media & Information.

Help Us Protect the Great Lakes

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