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Enbridge reaches $172M settlement over largest inland oil spill in U.S. history

By Andrew V. Pestano
Enbridge reaches $172M settlement over largest inland oil spill in U.S. history
Enbridge Energy, headquartered in Calgary, Canada, reached a $172 million settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice over the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history in which over 26,000 barrels of oil spilled. File photo by rmnoa357/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, July 20 (UPI) -- Enbridge Energy has reached a $172 million settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice over the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.

In 2010, Enbridge owned and operated two pipelines -- Line 6A and Line 6B -- that spilled oil. Line 6B ruptured and spilled over 20,000 barrels of oil near Marshall, Mich., on July 25, 2010. Line 6A spilled over 6,400 barrels of oil near Romeoville, Ill., much of which flowed through a drainage ditch and into a retention pond on September 9, 2010.

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"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," the EPA said in a statement. "Enbridge will also pay civil penalties totaling $62 million for Clean Water Act violations."

Measures implemented by Enbridge, headquartered in Calgary, Canada, will include enhanced pipeline inspection and spill prevention programs. An independent third party will be brought in to review Enbridge's measures. Enbridge previously reimbursed the government with over $58 million worth of cleanup costs related to the spills.

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"This agreement puts in place advanced leak detection and monitoring requirements to make sure a disaster like this one doesn't happen again," Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said in a statement. "This comprehensive program -- including an independent third party to audit compliance -- will protect our waterways and the people who depend on them."

Measures will also aim to improve leak detention and control room operations. The government's complaint alleged that although numerous alarms were triggered in Enbridge's control room after Line 6B ruptured, "Enbridge failed to recognize a pipeline had ruptured until at least 17 hours later."

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