Enbridge ordered to pay $3 million fine for piercing aquifer during Line 3 construction
DNR SAYS INCIDENT CAUSED A 24 MILLION GALLON GROUNDWATER LEAK
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota regulators say Enbridge Energy violated state environmental laws and must pay more than $3 million for piercing a groundwater aquifer during construction of the Line 3 oil pipeline.
The state Department of Natural Resources said Enbridge, while working near Clearbrook last January, dug too deeply into the ground and pierced an artesian aquifer which resulted in a 24 million gallon groundwater leak.
“Enbridge’s actions are a clear violation of state law, and also of the public trust,” said Barb Naramore, DNR deputy commissioner. “That is why we are using all of the tools in our authority to address the situation.”
It wasn’t until mid-June that the DNR discovered something was wrong after speaking to independent construction monitors who had observed water pooling in the pipeline trench near Clearbrook.
The DNR has ordered Enbridge to put $2.7 million into escrow for restoration and damage to nearby wetlands. Enbridge is also required to pay $300,000 to mitigate the lost groundwater and $250,000 for long-term monitoring of the wetlands.
Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, issued a statement.
“Enbridge is a rogue corporation that caused the largest inland oil spill in US history and has now damaged Minnesota’s most precious waters during construction of the Line 3 tar sands pipeline. The Biden Administration would only be doing its basic due diligence by finally requiring a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before any oil goes in this hurriedly-constructed new pipeline. Minnesota’s statewide leaders like Governor Walz and Senators Smith and Klobuchar should mitigate the damage already done to our water— and protect our shared climate —by asking the U.S. Army Corps for a full EIS before more tar sands crude oil flows.”
“Enbridge has been working with the DNR since June to provide the required site information and approval of a corrective action plan which is currently being implemented. We share a strong desire to protect Minnesota waters and the environment and we are committed to restoration. We will continue to work closely with the agency on the resolution of this matter,” according to Enbridge Communications Specialist Juli Kellner.
Enbridge’s 340-mile Line 3 pipeline will carry Canadian crude across northern Minnesota to the company’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. The pipeline, opposed by environmental groups and some Ojibwe tribes, is 90 % complete.