How are major oil spill claims handled in the US? For a
fascinating glimpse across the border,
Enbridge-consent-judgment is a copy of the multimillion dollar
consent order between the
State of Michigan and
Enbridge over the billion dollar, three-million-litre oil spill
into wetlands and the Kalamazoo River in 2010. The State and Enbridge agreed to
the order to finalize the obligations as between themselves;
the class-action by affected private property owners was settled
late last year. Enbridge also paid a $3,699,200 fine to the
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for
breaches of several laws involving pipeline management,
procedural manuals for operations and maintenance, public
awareness, accident reporting and qualifications among others.
In addition, the federal Department of Justice and EPA are
still negotiating with Enbridge over penalties and
injunctive relief for its violations of the federal Clean Water
In the State consent order, Enbridge agreed to a long list of
further obligations, substantial cash payments to the State and
other terms, all on top of what it has spent to clean up the spill.
The consent order obligations include:
An ongoing residual oil monitoring and maintenance
Continuing remediation of the remaining contamination;
A $30 million wetland restoration and monitoring program,
including providing the State with not less than 300 acres of
restored, created, or banked wetland;
A channel and shoreline monitoring program;
Reimbursing the state for all past and future legal and
oversight costs, which had already exceeded $10.4 million;
River enhancement projects, including removal of a dam and
improved recreational river access in five locations;
A $2.5 million endowment for the permanent maintenance of these
river enhancement projects, to be managed by a private consulting
$5 million paid to the State as compensation for damage to the
banks, bottomlands, and flow of Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo
Stipulated financial penalties, agreed in advance, for any
future breach of this Order;
Guaranteeing access to the remediation site for state
Using sampling and analytical methods approved in advance by
Providing emergency response should any further contamination
occur during the monitoring/cleanup;
Keeping records for at least 10 years;
Identifying individuals responsible for Enbridge's
compliance with the order;
Agreeing to indemnify the State for any future claims, secured
by $1 million in insurance; and
Mutual covenants not to sue each other.
In Canada, it would be surprising for the settlement details of
a major claim to be so easily accessible to the public.
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