Feds announce $62M in oil spill fines against Enbridge

July 2010 oil spill contaminated Kalamazoo River and tributaries

Cleanup work continues on the Kalamazoo River almost a year after a spill near Marshall, Mi. Wednesday July 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)


MARSHALL, Mich. (WOOD) — The federal government is expected to slap Enbridge Energy with a $62 million fine for the 2010 spill that dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River, a source tells 24 Hour News 8.

The Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a Tuesday release they would make an announcement regarding Enbridge at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Marshall. They did not specify the nature of that announcement.

However, a source with knowledge of the announcement told 24 Hour News 8 that the $62 million fine would be levied against Enbridge. The source also said that Enbridge will be required to pay preventative costs to make sure similar spills don’t happen again. Those costs are expected to be around $120 million.

The source said criminal charges were not expected.

Enbridge Energy told 24 Hour News 8 that they can’t comment until after Wednesday’s announcement.

Enbridge said when its 6B line ruptured on July 25, 2010 near Marshall, nearly 1 million gallons of fuel spilled into the Kalamazoo River and its tributaries, making it the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history. Despite alarms in an Enbridge control room and calls to 911 reporting the smell of gas, the leak went undetected for 17 hours. Operators even tried pumping extra oil through the line in an attempt to turn off the alarms.

It took three days to stop the oil from spreading down the Kalamazoo River. About 38 miles of the Kalamazoo River, as well as Talmadge Creek and surrounding wetlands, were affected.

>>Photos of the Enbridge oil spill: Then and now

In 2014, Enbridge completed its clean-up obligations as required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to the EPA, 1.2 million gallons of oil have been recovered from the river.

But residents along the river say there is still oil in the water.

“It’s a beautiful river and we see kayakers and tubers on it all the time,” Derek Malone said Tuesday.

He and his wife have lived near the Kalamazoo River for the past 10 years. It’s the perfect back drop for his wife’s photos. It looks nice, but they know from experience it’s still polluted.

“If you go tubing now, there still is an oily sheen on the bottom of our tube, so obviously it isn’t gone,” Malone said. “Literally years later, we are still reaping the results of their mess-up.”

Enbridge has been working to restore the river and local ecosystem, but neighbors say wildlife has left and it’s not the same. They hope the $62 million fine and prevention money will change that.

“I would like to know what they are going to do with it to know if what they are going to do with it is worth it,” Malone said.

In a May filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Enbridge said it expected it would be ordered to pay $62.5 million in fines and penalties for violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The Canada-based company said it was also likely to be required to institute new measures enhancing spill prevention, leak detection and emergency response to environmental events. In all, Enbridge estimated it will spend more than $1.2 billion in response to the oil spill.

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