Enbridge Energy is one of the world’s largest pipeline operators. Despite their long history, they have a terrible safety track-record. Enbridge has been responsible for more than 800 spills since 1999, including the largest inland oil pipeline spill in U.S. history— the 2010 Kalamazoo River disaster.
Enbridge has stated that since the spill, they have a strong safety culture. However, two weeks after the spill, Enbridge requested to restart the line, a request which Federal regulators strongly disapproved.
For years after the spill, the EPA had to repeatedly lecture Enbridge on the inadequacy and tardiness of its cleanup efforts. In a 2013 letter, EPA stated, “Although we recognize that the work required by the Order is unlikely to be completed by December 31, 2013, U.S. EPA believes that had Enbridge taken appropriate steps earlier as requested, it would not require an extension now. In particular, U.S. EPA believes that Enbridge has continuously failed to prepare adequate contingency plans for a project of this nature.”
Construction of the Line 61 Pipeline
Once the project was underway, Enbridge demonstrated an alarming disregard for the environment. Violations of state environmental regulations designed to protect impacted waterways during construction of Line 61 resulted in one of the largest settlements for a wetlands and waterways case in Wisconsin history. Ultimately, Enbridge was forced to pay $1.1 million for over 100 violations across the state, prompting Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to report that “…the incidents of violation were numerous and widespread, and resulted in impacts to the streams and wetlands throughout the various watersheds.”
Spills in Wisconsin
Enbridge also has a history of spills in Wisconsin, including:
- In January 2003 about 189,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Nemadji River from the Enbridge Energy Terminal in Superior, Wisconsin.
- In January 2007 an Enbridge pipeline in Wisconsin spilled more than 50,000 gallons of crude oil onto a farmer’s field in Clark County.
- The following month another Enbridge spill in Wisconsin released 126,000 gallons of crude in Rusk County.
With this record, it is not a question of if, but when and where, the next spill will occur.