United States EPA, Enbridge reach settlement over 2010 oil spills

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Enbridge and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have reached an agreement regarding 2 oil spills back in 2010.

The oil spills happened in Marshall, Michigan and Romeoville, Illinois.

Under the settlement, Enbridge has agreed to pay at least $110 million in measures “to prevent spills and improve operations across nearly 2,000 miles of its pipeline system in the Great Lakes region.”

Enbridge will also be paying fines of $62 million for Clean Water Act violations and $61 million for million for spilling at least 20,082 barrels of oil in Marshall and $1 million for discharging at least 6,427 barrels of oil in Romeoville. They will also be paying $5.4 million in non-reimbursed costs that were paid by the government to cleanup the Marshall spill, they will also pay any costs that occur from that spill in the future.

In a statement, the EPA says Enbridge must also now adhere to strict guidelines.

“Today’s settlement includes an extensive set of specific requirements to prevent spills and enhance leak detection capabilities throughout Enbridge’s Lakehead pipeline system – a network of 14 pipelines spanning nearly 2,000 miles across seven states. Enbridge must also take major actions to improve its spill preparedness and emergency response programs. Under the settlement, Enbridge is also required to replace close to 300 miles of one of its pipelines, after obtaining all necessary approvals. Enbridge’s Lakehead System delivers approximately 1.7 million barrels of oil in the United States each day.”

Those measures are:

•           Implement an enhanced pipeline inspection and spill prevention program

•           Implement enhanced measures to improve leak detection and control room operations

•           Commit to additional leak detection and spill prevention requirements for a portion of Enbridge’s Line 5 that crosses the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan.

•           Create and maintain an integrated database for its Lakehead Pipeline System

•           Enhance its emergency spill response preparedness programs by conducting four emergency spill response exercises to test and practice Enbridge’s response to a major inland oil spill

•           Improve training and coordination with state and local emergency responders by requiring incident command system training for employees, provide training to local responders, participate in area response planning and organize response exercises

•           Hire an independent third party to assist with review of implementation of the requirements in the settlement agreement

 

The governments complaint was that Enbridge did not act quickly enough when the incidents occurred.

“The government’s complaint alleges that Enbridge owned or operated a 30 inch-pipeline, known as Line 6B, that ruptured near Marshall on July 25, 2010, discharging oil into the environment. Although the Line 6B rupture triggered numerous alarms in Enbridge’s control room, Enbridge failed to recognize a pipeline had ruptured until at least 17 hours later. In the meantime, Enbridge had restarted Line 6B on two separate occasions on July 26, 2010, pumping additional oil into the ruptured pipeline causing additional discharges of oil into the environment. Ultimately, Line 6B discharged at least 20,082 barrels of crude oil, much of which entered Talmadge Creek and flowed into the Kalamazoo River which flows to Lake Michigan. Flooding caused by heavy rains pushed the discharged oil over the river’s banks into its flood plains, and accelerated its migration over 35 miles downstream before it was contained. Enbridge later replaced Line 6B, which originates in Griffith, Ind., crosses the lower peninsula of Michigan and ends in Sarnia, Canada, with a new, larger pipeline, also known as Line 6B. The rupture and discharges were caused by stress corrosion cracking on the pipeline, control room misinterpretations and other problems, and pervasive organization failures at Enbridge.

The complaint also alleges that on September 9, 2010, another Enbridge pipeline, known as Line 6A, discharged at least 6,427 barrels of oil which Romeoville, Ill., much of which flowed through a drainage ditch into a retention pond in Romeoville.”

Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance says this settlement will make sure these incidents do not happen again in the future.

“This agreement puts in place advanced leak detection and monitoring requirements to make sure a disaster like this one doesn’t happen again. This comprehensive program – including an independent third party to audit compliance – will protect our waterways and the people who depend on them.”