Thursday, July 23, 2015

Enbridge Expects $40 Million Fine, EPA's Stiffest Ever for a Pipeline Spill

Workers with the Environmental Protection Agency clean up a creek after the Kalamazoo River spill in 2010. (Credit: Michigan State) Click to Enlarge.
The Environmental Protection Agency may penalize Enbridge Inc. with the stiffest fine ever imposed under the Clean Water Act for an oil pipeline disaster, based on an InsideClimate News review of EPA enforcement data covering the past 15 years.

Enbridge, a Canadian pipeline operator, expects a $40 million penalty for spilling 1 million gallons of tar sands oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River five years ago, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Under federal law, the EPA could levy $100 million or more, depending on whether the agency finds that the pipeline rupture resulted from negligence, and other factors.  Enbridge, Canada's largest transporter of crude oil, is worth an estimated $30 billion.

A fine in that range would top the biggest pipeline fine since 2000––the $34 million that the EPA fined Colonial Pipeline Co. in 2003 for a series of spills, the enforcement records show. The largest fine that the EPA has imposed under the 1972 Clean Water Act was $5.5 billion for BP Exploration and Production's 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout, which dumped 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  Environmental activists say the Enbridge penalty should be substantial enough to send a message to pipeline operators that catastrophes like the Kalamazoo spill won’t be tolerated and that they must act more responsibly.

"The EPA needs to say enough is enough," said Nick Schroeck, executive director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center in Detroit.  "By setting the maximum allowable penalties, the EPA can get across to the pipeline companies that it’s time to stop these types of catastrophic spills from happening again."

Read more at Enbridge Expects $40 Million Fine, EPA's Stiffest Ever for a Pipeline Spill

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