The New Mass Extinction: There’s A Pipeline Ready To Burst Under The Great Lakes

Beneath the Great Lakes, there is a ticking time bomb that threatens one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water. That time bomb comes in the form of a pipeline owned by the Canadian company Enbridge.

The pipeline known as “Line 5” is the subject of a new documentary produced by Motherboard/Vice. The documentary uncovers what led to the creation of what could turn out to be one of the world’s worst man-made environmental disasters.

Motherboard reports:

Motherboard correspondent Spencer Chumbley went to Michigan to investigate the situation, and the research is alarming. If just one of the pipelines ruptured, it would result in a spill of 1.5 million gallons of oil—and that’s if Enbridge, the company that owns them, is able to fix the pipeline immediately. UMich research scientist Dave Schwab says, “I can’t imagine another place in the Great Lakes where it’d be more devastating to have an oil spill.”

Enbridge, the company that runs the pipelines, insists they are safe. But Enbridge does not have a particularly inspiring record, with more than 800 spills between 1999 and 2010, totalling 6.8 million gallons of spilled oil. In 2010, its pipeline 6B ruptured in the Kalamazoo River. The nation’s focus was pulled by Deepwater Horizon at the time, but the Kalamazoo River spill became the nation’s biggest inland oil spill.

It is important to note that the pipeline that spilled into the Kalamazoo was not only rebuilt, but also expanded, doubling the amount of tar sands that flow through the line. Line 5 has come under the scrutiny of environmentalists and concerned citizens, which led to the creation of a pipeline review board, headed by Michigan’s Republican Attorney General, Bill Schuette. In 2015, the committee gave out recommendations based on what they thought was the best way to deal with the dangers of the pipeline. To the ire of environmental activists, the committee did not recommend that the pipeline be removed completely.

As glorious as the defeat of the Keystone XL pipeline was to environmentalists and their allies, Line 5 serves as a reminder of the danger that has been interwoven into the land and water throughout the United States. There are around 185,000 miles of pipelines that have been embedded into the United States, each one carrying traditional crude oil, or Canadian tar sands. Many of those pipelines have been neglected and can fail at any moment. Even if all goes according to plan, that oil is destined to be burned, and sent into the atmosphere where it will further the disruption of the Earth’s climate, continuing Earth’s new mass extinction.

You can watch the documentary below:

Featured Image Credit: Screenshot via Motherboard