Enbridge Agrees to Pay Civil Penalties Over Pipeline Spills

The company's consent decree with EPA and DOJ includes civil penalties under the Clean Water Act of $61 million relating to the Line 6B release and $1 million related to the Line 6A release, both payable within 30 days of the effective date of the decree.

Canada-based Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P.and Enbridge Inc., its parent company, announced they have signed a consent decree with EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice over the spills from the Line 6B pipeline in Marshall, Mich., in July 2010 and the Line 6A pipeline in Romeoville, Ill., in September 2010. Both lines are part of the Lakehead Pipeline system owned by Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership, a subsidiary of EEP.

The decree will take effect following a comment period and upon approval by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

"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," said Mark Maki, president of the partnership. "In fulfilling the terms of the agreement, we will cooperate with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."

The decree includes:

  • Civil penalties under the Clean Water Act of $61 million relating to the Line 6B release and $1 million related to the Line 6A release, both payable within 30 days of the effective date of the decree. (EEP has previously resolved claims for natural resource damages, as detailed in the decree, and in May 2015 signed an agreement with the State of Michigan regarding mitigation payments, according to the company.)
  • Safety measures that build on improvements made since 2010, including enhancements to the comprehensive in-line inspection-based spill prevention program; enhanced measures to protect the Straits of Mackinac along the Line 5 Straits Crossing; improved leak detection requirements; installing new valves to control product loss in the event of an incident; continued enhancement of control room operations; and enhanced spill response capabilities. Enbridge said the total cost of these measures is estimated to be approximately $110 million during the four-year term of the decree.
  • Pipeline replacement. EEP replaced the entire 285-mile length of Line 6B in 2014 and that same year agreed to full replacement of Line 3 in Canada and in the United States. Pending regulatory approvals, the new 292-mile U.S. segment between Neche, N.D., and Superior, Wis., is anticipated to be placed in service in early 2019. The estimated cost of approximately $2.6 billion is included in EEP's long-term capital investment plan, and the decree directs EEP to continue with the project.

"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 fulfil our commitments and make good on our promises. That accountability continues with today's announcement," said Al Monaco, president and CEO of Enbridge. "The learnings from our experience have made us a better company, and the way we think about safety has changed. Over the past six years, we've intensified our focus on the safety and integrity of our systems enterprise-wide and we've invested significantly in our people, processes, equipment, and technology. Across Enbridge, our team is galvanized by our number one priority of safety and reliability of our systems and the protection of the public and the environment."

"Protection of the public and the environment is the key pillar in delivering the energy people depend on. But that's not the end of our focus; it's the beginning. We fundamentally believe that to be the leading energy company in North America requires a relentless focus on getting better. And getting better is at the heart and soul of our company," he added.

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