If an oil spill occurred in the Great Lakes, what would happen?

If an oil spill occurred in the Great Lakes, what would happen?

WASHINGTON D.C. — Five years ago, Michigan suffered one of the worst oil spills in history, when an Enbridge pipeline burst and flowed over a million gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River.

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters want to make sure that an oil spill of that magnitude doesn’t happen in the Great Lakes. Stabenow and Peters talked about their latest legislative efforts, the Pipeline Improvement and Preventing Spills Act.

The bill, if passed, would ban the shipping of any crude oil on the Great Lakes. According to Peters, there is no crude oil currently being shipped on the lakes. The legislation also addresses Enbridge pipeline five, the 60-year–old line that runs through the Straits of Mackinac.

“In addition to making sure that we are using the best available technologies to safeguard that pipeline to make sure it doesn’t break, we also need to look at alternatives,” said Peters. “The cost benefit analysis of any kind of disaster there I think would warrant us at additional places to place that pipe. That’s part of this legislation, to require that study to understand better whether or not we need to relocate it somewhere else.”

“We all know how critical this is for Michigan and how devastating it would be I can’t even imagine if we had a leak that caused some kind of a spill into the Great Lakes,” said Stabenow. “We know what happened in Kalamazoo. It was the largest inland cleanup in the country, $1.2 billion,” she added.

Enbridge is currently conducting an oil spill response drill in the Straits of Mackinac this week. If an oil spill were to occur in the Great Lakes, the U.S. Coast Guard would spearhead the cleanup efforts.

The pipeline bill is set to be introduced Thursday.