Michigan Tech researchers hired by State to lead Line 5 Risk Analysis

HOUGHTON — A team of experts tasked with evaluating the economic and environmental impacts of a “worst case scenario” spill or release from the Line 5 Straits Pipelines will be led by researchers from Michigan Technological University.

The State of Michigan announced Friday that it reached a contract agreement with Michigan Tech to have Dr. Guy Meadows lead an independent risk analysis of the two parallel 20-inch pipelines of Line 5 that run beneath the Straits of Mackinac. Meadows is the director of the Great Lakes Research Center and the Robbins Professor of Sustainable Marine Engineering at Michigan Tech.

“The Straits of Mackinac is perhaps the most dynamically complex region of the Great Lakes,” Meadows said in a statement from MTU. “I am glad to have had the opportunity to study the region over the past several years, and to be able to apply that knowledge to this equally complex request from the State.”

The team Meadows will lead will evaluate the following:

  • The environmental fate and transport of oil or other products released from the Straits pipelines in a worst-case scenario.
  • How long it would take to contain and clean up the worst-case release.
  • The short- and long-term public health and safety impacts.
  • The short- and long-term ecological impacts.
  • Potential measures to restore the affected natural resources and mitigate the ecological impacts.
  • Estimate the amount of natural resource damages, the governmental costs, and all other economic damages – public and private – that would result from a worst-case release.

To help with the evaluation, Meadows has organized a team of 41 researchers, 21 from Michigan Tech and 20 from external organizations. Nine universities are contributing to the analysis, and seven of those are within the state of Michigan. They include Michigan Tech, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and Oakland University. The two out-of-state universities are North Dakota State University and Loyola University Chicago.

The team is expected to complete a draft risk analysis and publicly present their draft report in July of 2018, which will be followed by a 30-day public comment period. After responding to the public and State input on the draft, the team will prepare a final report to be delivered by September 15th, 2018, if there are no setbacks.

To read the full article from Michigan Tech, click HERE.