Enbridge Settles with U.S. Over Michigan Spill
Prince George, B.C.- The oil spill in Michigan which fueled opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project is once again in the news.
Enbridge has reached a final agreement with the U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the 2010 pipeline breach of Line 6B that sent 4,200 cubic meters of diluted bitumen into Talmadge Creek, which flowed into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.
In a release issued today, Enbridge Energy Partnership (EEP) President, Mark Maki says “From the beginning, we’ve taken responsibility for the Line 6B release. We accept the civil penalties and enhanced safety measures in the Decree. The enhanced safety measures included in the Decree are consistent with our approach to safety and integrity and our current practices and have largely been implemented over the past six years.”
The agreement has three major components:
- Civil penalties: The Decree sets civil penalties under the Clean Water Act of US$61 million relating to the Line 6B release and an additional sum of US$1 million related to the Line 6A release, each payable within 30 days of the effective date of the Decree. Enbridge had already settled claims for natural resource damages,
- Safety measures: The safety measures set out in the Decree build on improvements that have been implemented since 2010 including enhancements to the comprehensive in-line inspection (ILI)-based spill prevention program; improved leak detection requirements; installation of new valves to control product loss in the event of an incident; continued enhancement of control room operations; and enhanced spill response capabilities.
- Pipeline replacement: EEP replaced the entire 285-mile length of Line 6B in 2014.
Al Monaco, President and Chief Executive Officer, Enbridge said, “From the beginning, Enbridge and EEP made a commitment to the people of Michigan that we would clean up and restore the Kalamazoo River and surrounding areas, and cover the costs. We’ve done that. We’ve worked extremely hard to fulfill our commitments and make good on our promises. That accountability continues with today’s announcement. ”
Monaco says the lessons learned from the spill “have made us a better company and the way we think about safety has changed.” He says the company has intensified its focus on the safety and integrity of the pipeline system. “No incident is acceptable to us and our safety culture challenges us to continually strive for our goal of zero incidents” said Monaco.
Meantime, the Northern Gateway project is in limbo. Although approved ( with nearly 300 conditions) by the Federal Government, that approval is now back in the lap of Prime Minister Trudeau’s cabinet as the Federal Court has ruled the Government failed to have meaningful consultation with First Nations.