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Enbridge, Michigan reach settlement for 2010 oil spill

State regulator says agreement focuses more on remediation than fines.

By Daniel J. Graeber

LANSING, Mich., May 13 (UPI) -- A Michigan environmental regulator said Wednesday it was pleased with an Enbridge settlement that focuses on restoration work from a 2010 oil spill.

Line 6b, part of a larger Enbridge pipeline network in the Midwest, ruptured near Marshall, Mich., in 2010, dumping more than 25,000 barrels of oil into the surrounding community. More than 30 miles of the region's Kalamazoo River were soiled by the spill, making it one of the worst incidents of its kind.

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Line 6b was carrying oil sands from Canadian operations at the time of the incident. That type of oil is heavier than water, causing it to sink and mix with river sediment.

Enbridge Energy and the state of Michigan filed a settlement in a county court that requires the company to monitor the environmental impacts of the spill and spend as much as $75 million in restoration and remediation work in and around the Kalamazoo River.

"We are excited about this settlement, because it directs tremendous effort and resources to repairing and enhancing a waterway that was damaged by the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history," Dan Wyant, director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, said in a statement to UPI.

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The remediation program for Enbridge includes 300 acres of Michigan wetlands. Wyant said the deal means the river system will be healthier and an eventual eco-tourism destination in the years ahead.

Dozens of miles of the river system were closed off as Enbridge removed soil and sediment contaminated by the spill. The company faced setbacks last year because of public opposition to some of its remediation plans

Enbridge has faced continued scrutiny about its safety record in the region. A "pinhole" leak was discovered in December on an Enbridge pipeline in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, though no spill was associated with the incident.

Wyant and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette last year helped establish the Great Lakes Petroleum Pipeline Task Force to review pipeline concerns in the state.

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