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Wisconsin Tribe Seeks Emergency Shutdown of Imperiled Line 5 Pipeline
An ecological and human health disaster looms as the Line 5 oil pipeline threatens to leak into Wisconsin’s Bad River.
Rapid erosion of a riverbank over the past month has left the Line 5 pipeline just a few yards from being exposed to the powerful river current. This could imminently result in an oil leak into the Bad River, which flows into Lake Superior.
The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is seeking an emergency shutdown and purge of Line 5 before any more erosion occurs. The Band has long relied on fishing, wild rice, medicines, and other plants and animals from the Bad River and Lake Superior. A rupture and oil spill would pose a catastrophic threat to their community, the wider public, the river, and Lake Superior.
Line 5 is risking an environmental and human health disaster.
- Line 5 is designed to be underground supported by soil, not suspended in the rushing waters of a flooding river. Collisions with uprooted trees and other debris could easily cause a breach, or the weight of the oil in the pipeline could cause a guillotine rupture.
- A full-bore rupture of Line 5 at the Bad River meander would result in nearly 22,000 barrels (922,908 gallons) of oil entering the Bad River, just 16 miles upstream of Lake Superior.
- The river is less than 15 feet from the pipeline at four locations, and only 11 feet of bank remains in one spot.
Enbridge, the Canadian oil company behind Line 5, has a terrible oil spill record.
- Line 5 already trespasses on the Bad River Band’s territory, and Enbridge cannot be trusted to protect our critical natural resources over their profits.
- Enbridge’s proposed mitigation measures are false solutions. They are environmentally harmful, extraordinarily difficult to carry out in such a remote area, and prolong the trespass onto the Band’s territory.
- Enbridge was responsible for one of the largest inland oil spills in U.S. history: the Line 6B spill in 2010 that released 20,080 barrels of crude oil into Talmage Creek and the Kalamazoo River.
Shutting down Line 5 now avoids economic catastrophe.
- While shutting down Line 5 would briefly and minimally impact gas prices, a rupture in the Bad River would require millions in cleanup costs and devastate local tourism and fishing in addition to raising gas prices.
- Enbridge’s own experts predict that a shutdown of Line 5 would cause gasoline prices to rise by less than 1 cent per gallon in Michigan and Wisconsin.
- In comparison, the cleanup and remediation from a full-bore oil spill could amount to over a billion dollars.
- The cost levied on sick communities, depressed property values, and devastated local fishing and tourism dollars could last for years afterwards.