Analyst: 1 in 60 chance of straits pipeline spill by 2053

FILE - In this May 31, 2002 file photo, the sun sets over the Mackinac Bridge and the Mackinac Straits as seen from Lake Huron. (AP Photo/Al Goldis, File)

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. Mihell disputed suggestions the firm was low-balling or sugar-coating the risk.

Analysts didn’t recommend a specific course of action by the state, but described several alternatives to the pipeline section, including construction of a new trench or tunnel crossing at the same location.