Enbridge to pay US$177 million for one of the largest onshore oil spills in U.S. history – by Geoffrey Morgan (Financial Post – July 21, 2016)


CALGARY – Canada’s largest pipeline company Enbridge Inc. has reached a US$177-million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency over two pipeline spills in the summer of 2010 that released more than 26,500 barrels of oil into rivers in Michigan and Illinois, bringing the total cost of the controversial clean-up to more than US$1.2 billion.

Enbridge Energy Partners (EEP), a U.S. subsidiary of the Calgary-based pipeliner, said Wednesday it has agreed to pay US$62 million in fines, reimburse the U.S. government US$5.4 million for its clean-up efforts and spend US$110 million to prevent spills in the future.

Those costs are in addition to the US$75 million Enbridge agreed to pay to the state of Michigan in a 2015 settlement. The company said it has now spent US$1.2 billion between fines, settlements and clean-up efforts as a result of the spills.

Environmentalists, including at the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council, called the US$177 million settlement a “slap on the wrist,” but the penalties announced Wednesday are significantly larger than what agencies in Canada have handed out for similar pipeline spills.

Plains Midstream Canada, for example, agreed in 2014 to pay $1.3 million in penalties and pled guilty to charges relating to two spills in Alberta in 2011 and 2012 that were similar in size to the Enbridge spills in Michigan and Illinois.

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