Great Lakes, Bad Lines

2016, Environment  -  28 min Leave a Comment
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Enbridge Oils Line 5 have become a reason for great concern. The twin lines, which measure 20 inches in diameter, are over six decades old and for many they stand for another disaster waiting to happen. Every day 23 million gallons of oil flow through these old pipelines, which are located in the heart of the Great Lakes just west of the Mackinac Bridge.  The lines run about 1,000 feet apart at depths ranging from 100 to 270 feet. When the lines were put in place during the Eisenhower administration, it was estimated that they would last for fifty years. The lines are moving in some places due to water current and they are being scraped against the bottom of the lake. This places over 700 miles of pristine fresh water at risk.

Disaster isn’t new to Enbridge Oils. In July 2010 their Line 6B burst and dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil near Marshall, Michigan. As a result both Talmadge Creek and Kalamazoo River were contaminated.  In the following four years, about 1.2 million gallons of oil were recovered from the river.

An organization called FLOW (For Love of Water) did extensive research and realized that the State has the legal obligation to do something about this threat, but nobody seems interested in making Enbridge Oils change the pipelines.

And so two young men, Colin McCarthy and Paul Hendricks decide to travel from where the pipelines begin all the way to the end and to do so by sailing, rock climbing, walking, cycling, surfing and anything else that requires that they move their bodies. Along the way, they strike up conversations and talk to everybody they meet who would be affected by an oil spill. Their objective is to inspire people to get involved in protecting the places they love. They want to raise awareness to the risk, while at the same time call people to action to place pressure on the State of Michigan.

Patagonia, an organization that offers grants to projects that use creative as a tool for environmental activism, also got involved in the project.

In Duluth, Michigan they team up with Troy Bowditch who drives them to their different stops. They meet Marc and Katya Gordon and get on their sailboat ‘Amicus II’. The family quickly points out Lake Superior as their favorite place to sail in the world.

When they leave the boat they head to a bar where they share their project with partygoers. One young man admitted to living in Duluth his entire life but not knowing there were pipelines that started there. They all find it hard to believe that such great danger is imminent and so much is at risk.

As they continue on their journey, one thing becomes increasingly clear: losing all the beauty of the Great Lakes would be a human tragedy that must be avoided at all costs.