Report: straits pipeline may spill

HOLT, Mich. (AP) — Analysts say there’s a small chance but serious risk of an oil spill from a nearly 65-year-old dual pipeline underneath the Straits of Mackinac in northern Michigan.

Engineer James Mihell of Dynamic Risk Assessment Inc. says there is a 1 in 60 probability that the section of Enbridge Energy Inc.’s Line 5 pipeline running through waters that connect lakes Huron and Michigan will fail between now and 2053.

The state hired the analysts to assess potential energy delivery alternatives in the area.

Environmental activists have accused Dynamic Risk of underestimating the potential of a spill, saying the report “is the oil industry’s version of protecting the Great Lakes.” Mihell disputed suggestions the firm was low-balling or sugar-coating the risk.

“What we’re talking about are very significant consequences,” he said.

The report detailed threats that could increase the failure probability of the existing straits section of Line 5, including mechanical damage, weather and incorrect operations. It concluded the passage of time wasn’t a major risk itself.