Enbridge fined $3.7 million for 2010 U.S. oil spill

Mon Jul 2, 2012 10:24pm EDT
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. pipeline regulator on Monday slapped a $3.7 million fine, the largest penalty ever imposed, on Enbridge Inc for a July 2010 crude oil spill which contaminated stretches of the Kalamzoo River in Michigan.

The Transportation Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said its probe uncovered two dozen regulation violations related to the leak on Enbridge's Line 6B near the town of Marshall, about mid-way between Detroit and Lake Michigan.

"We will hold pipeline operators accountable if they do not follow proper safety procedures to protect the environment and local communities," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

Enbridge has 30 days to respond to the order.

PHMSA's order against Enbridge accuses the company of failing to adhere to regulations for maintaining pipeline integrity.

The agency also said the company attempted to bring the pipeline back into service despite receiving multiple leak alarms the night it ruptured, leading to the release of more oil.

Enbridge's 30-inch line ultimately spilled more than 20,000 barrels of heavy crude and contaminated 38 miles of the Kalamazoo River.

The accident shut down the pipeline for more than two months and spawned a massive clean-up that the company has estimated will cost more than $700 million.

Following the Enbridge spill and other major pipeline accidents, the Transportation Department enhanced its oversight last year.   Continued...

Oil is seen floating on the Kalamazoo river after an oil pipeline leaked oil into the river near Marshall, Michigan July 31, 2010. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook