You know that feeling you get when you’re watching a scary movie, and something bad is about to happen? The music gets weird, the action starts to slow down, someone says something meaningful like “I’ll always be there for you.” That’s the feeling you might get watching this video from Motherboard about an aging oil pipeline lying at the bottom of the Great Lakes.
Here’s the gist: A company called Enbridge (appropriately evil-sounding) owns a 62-year-old pipeline running between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan along the Straits of Mackinac. The pipeline was originally built to last 50 years and is in questionable shape, but don’t worry — Enbridge says they have everything under control. Sure, the company had 800 spills between 1999 and 2010, according to Motherboard, and yes, one of those spills was the worst inland spill in U.S. history, causing more than 800,000 gallons of oil to spew into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. But no matter — there’s a very nice Enbridge employee in the video who says that the company doesn’t want to have any more spills.
Now, there’s no one I trust more than a giant oil pipeline operator, but this 17-minute video still feels like a teaser for an impending catastrophe. David Schwab, a scientist at the University of Michigan who spoke with Motherboard, says that when currents are at their peak, the amount of water flowing through the strait is 10 times the amount flowing over Niagara Falls. If a rupture occurs, he says, oil will quickly spread into both lakes. And even if Enbridge takes action immediately, Motherboard reports, the best-case scenario would end in a 1.5 million gallon spill.
So let’s consider ourselves warned. Now if there is a spill, we’ll all be that stupid character who went down to the basement to check up on a mysterious noise, when she knew full well that there was a killer on the loose.