Enbridge Fined Over Pipeline Inspections
Enbridge Inc., the Calgary-based energy company that owns and operates several major oil and gas pipelines in Canada and the northern U.S., has been fined $1.8 million over allegations it did not properly inspect some of its lines on the timeline prescribed in a consent decree with the U.S. government.
According to reports, in a settlement filed Wednesday (May 2), the Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency, which originally settled the consent decree with Enbridge after a spill on its Line 6B in Michigan in 2010, argued that the company did not inspect some of its lines, including its controversial Line 5 liquids pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac, in a timely manner.
Enbridge says it did inspect its lines, and that the issues comes down to a disagreement regarding the timeline prescribed.
Also at issue in the settlement are the tools and methods Enbridge used to perform its inspections: The government argues that the in-line inspection tools the company used were not sufficient to determine the scale of cracking they might find. Enbridge is reportedly working with another firm to develop a more effective inspection tool.
Line 6B Settlement
In the wake of the 2010 spill near the Kalamazoo River, Enbridge entered into a $177 million settlement with the EPA and DOJ in 2016, promising to take measures to prevent future spills and improve operations across its pipeline network. The Line 6B release resulted in more than 840,000 gallons of oil leaking, some reaching the river and other nearby bodies of water.
An investigation after the spill found that earlier in-line inspections had found evidence of cracks and corrosion, but Enbridge did not follow up on the findings.
Another spill occurred on the company’s Line 6A in September 2010, resulting in more than 250,000 gallons spilled.
Line 5 Controversy
Those spills have been cited more recently by citizens and lawmakers who have sought to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5, a 65-year-old twin liquids pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac. Enbridge has insisted that the pipeline is safe, and the line passed a hydrotest last year, but opponents say the company has been less than forthcoming about the condition of the underwater pipeline and its protective coating.
Enbridge is currently investigating options for replacing Line 5 in accordance with an agreement reached last November with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.