EVEN the state of Michigan is irritated that the U.S. State Department was about to sanction the use of century-old pipelines to pump crude oil under the St. Clair River without telling anyone.
Taking advantage of the public comment period that was reopened after widespread outrage over the process and widespread worries about using oil pipelines laid in 1918, the state’s Office of the Great Lakes weighed in on the permit application of Plains LPG Services of Texas.
The company and the State Department say the permit process is a routine matter of cleaning up some paper work left over
from Plains LPG purchasing the pipelines.
And although Plains LPG has since said that it would never use the oldest of the six pipelines to transport crude or anything else, it is clear that neither the company nor the government agency know what is in those documents or in those pipelines.
Jon W. Allen, director of the Office of the Great Lakes, wants to know both.
“The state continues to have significant important unanswered questions about the integrity of the current set of pipelines (and/or liners) and their operations that cross the St. Clair River, especially as Plains is seeking to establish the potential to carry crude oil in all six of these lines at some time in the indeterminate future through this Presidential Permit.”
The state makes several prudent and reasonable demands that must be met before Plains LPG moves anything through those pipes:
• The 1918 pipelines must be inspected inside and out.
• The entire history of the pipelines must be documented back to 1918. Liners were installed in the pipeline at some time but nobody knows when or, more importantly, why.
• Plains must use current technology to ensure safe use and future safety of the pipes regardless of their age.
• The company must develop and submit a comprehensive spill response plan for each pipeline.
• Finally, and we think this is the one Plains LPG and every corporation moving dangerous materials across and under the Great Lakes should be doing, the company should weigh the risks against the benefits of using these antiquated pipelines and ask itself if there isn’t a smarter way to move these materials
— TIMES HERALD (PORT HURON)