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Enbridge will pay $172 million for Kalamazoo River oil spill

Jul 20, 2016

You probably remember hearing about fines levied against Enbridge for the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill before. You're right. You did.

The company paid fines and settlements to the state of Michigan, fines to tribes, and fines to the U.S. Department of Transportation, and settlements with nearby homeowners and landowners.

(See a timeline of events here.)

But this is the big one.

It's the settlement Enbridge reached with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The company has been negotiating with the federal government for a long time over this settlement. In past years, it would tell investors what kind of a fine they anticipated in SEC filings. Inside Climate News reported they expected a fine of $22 million in 2013.

Today we finally received details on the federal settlement nearly six years to the day after the spill happened on July 25, 2010.

The settlement also covers a separate spill that occurred in Romeoville two months after the spill in Marshall.

More from the EPA:

Enbridge has agreed to spend at least $110 million on a series of measures to prevent spills and improve operations across nearly 2,000 miles of its pipeline system in the Great Lakes region. Enbridge will also pay civil penalties totaling $62 million for Clean Water Act violations -- $61 million for discharging at least 20,082 barrels of oil in Marshall and $1 million for discharging at least 6,427 barrels of oil in Romeoville.

The settlement also requires Enbridge to make several improvements in its monitoring and emergency preparedness programs.

The settlement specifically calls for a host of inspections and additional monitoring to be done on Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline crossing under the Great Lakes at the Straits of Mackinac.

Read the details of the settlement here.

EPA Assistant Administrator Cynthia Giles said the agreement with Enbridge "puts in place advanced leak detection and monitoring requirements to make sure a disaster like this one doesn’t happen again."

But others take issue with that assessment.

The National Wildlife Federation called the  settlement "woefully insufficient."

More from their statement:

"Considering Enbridge reported a $937 million profit for the first quarter of 2016, a $62 million fine and assurances that Enbridge will do basic inspections and maintenance could be merely considered a cost of doing business, rather than true deterrent to prevent negligent oil disasters that devastate our communities, contaminate our drinking water, and threaten America’s fish and wildlife," said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

There is a 30-day comment period on the settlement. Fine more here.