New documentary investigates
WASHINGTON – The world’s largest crude oil transporter has a secret buried deep in the Great Lakes: two unsupported, aging pipelines that transport 23 million gallons of crude oil every day through the largest freshwater system on earth.
In a new VICE Motherboard documentary released Tuesday, filmmaker Spencer Chumbley travels to Michigan to investigate accusations of secrecy and neglect aimed at Enbridge, the Canadian energy delivery company responsible for two 62-year-old pipelines stretching across the Straits of Mackinac. While Enbridge insists that the aging pipelines are secure and continuously maintained, many Midwest residents accuse the company of withholding valuable information from the public.
“Corporate transparency, not anti-petroleum activism, is really at the heart of this piece,” Chumbley says, “Many Michigan residents I spoke with had no idea Line 5 even existed, and those that did couldn’t access public information about the state of pipeline.”
Environmental scholars and activists also point out the company’s troubling record: more than 800 spills in North America between 1999 and 2010, releasing over 5 million gallons of oil. Enbridge is responsible for the 2010 Kalamazoo River spill, which released more nearly one million gallons of oil and is on record as the largest inland oil spill in American history.
“Enbridge pipelines are carrying oil through the largest freshwater system in the world,” Chumbley continues, “No one wants to see what happened in Kalamazoo happen in the Great Lakes.”
In the documentary, Chumbley speaks with regional experts in environmental awareness and conservation, including the National Wildlife Federation’s Andy Buchsbaum and the University of Michigan’s Dave Schwab. Chumbley also consults with Pipeline Safety Trust activist Beth Wallace before meeting with Enbridge representative Jason Manshum to discuss environmental remediation and institutional transparency.
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