“TRAVERSE CITY, MI — Lead and toxic per- and polyfluorinated compounds called PFAS in Michigan water supplies have made national headlines.
Larry Bell, owner and founder of Bell’s Brewery, wonders if oil is next.
For Bell, it’s not hypothetical. The Kalamazoo-based brewer witnessed the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill, in which Canadian company Enbridge Energy failed to recognize that its Line 6B had ruptured until at least 17 hours afterward.
About 843,000 gallons of heavy crude oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River. It is the largest and most costly inland spill in American history.
On Monday, Bell testified as part of a panel before the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee field hearing in Traverse City on the possibility of and response to an oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac from the Line 5 oil and gas pipeline belonging to Enbridge Energy.
‘A rupture of Line 5 would cement Michigan’s reputation of having the worst water in the United States,’ Bell said. ‘This reputation would have horrible effects on our business as brewers.’
In a worst-case scenario Straits rupture, Line 5 would gush 2,436,000 gallons of oil, slick 437 miles of Great Lakes shoreline and cost $1.86 billion in damages, according to a study spearheaded by Michigan Technological University.
Bell was among other area stakeholders to testify at the hearing put on by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan. He was joined in the panel by representatives from the pipeline industry, environmental advocacy groups, labor unions and Enbridge Energy…
Bell testified at the hearing as a representative of the business community. In early 2017, he and numerous other business leaders from around the state formed the Great Lakes Business Network, calling for the 65-year-old Line 5 to be decommissioned…
Bell told Peters how the PFAS contamination in Parchment, which abuts Kalamazoo but has its own water supply, has affected his business.
‘While water from the Kalamazoo municipal system remains clean, our customers both in-state and out-of-state have been concerned because the contamination of water in Parchment,’ Bell said.
PFAS levels in the Parchment water system are 20 times higher than the federal lifetime health advisory. It has become a public health crisis.
‘Due to the state of PFAS issues around the state, as well as the issue of lead in the water in Flint, our state has been gaining the reputation for having bad water,’ Bell said. ‘This is not the type of thing that makes us comfortable in the brewing business.’
The issue of whether of not to shut down Line 5, Bell said, has divisions among party lines.
‘It unfortunately has become partisan,’ he said after the hearing. ‘To me, water should never be partisan.’ ”
Read the full article by Michael Kransz