Enbridge fined $3 million for violating Minnesota environmental laws during construction of Line 3

Enbridge Inc. has been fined and could face criminal charges for violating Minnesota environmental laws during the construction of its Line 3 pipeline replacement.

The Calgary-based pipeline giant has been ordered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to pay $3.32 million for the rupture of an aquifer containing groundwater during the construction of a trench near from the company’s Clearbrook terminal.

In a statement, the agency said Enbridge began work on the Clearbrook terminal site in early 2021, but did not follow the construction plans it provided. He said the company’s plans called for using traditional trench construction methods at a depth of 8 to 10 feet, but instead Enbridge built the trench at a depth of about 18 feet with sheet piles installed at a depth of 28 feet.

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The resulting aquifer rupture caused an unauthorized release of 24.2 million gallons of water, the DNR said, which had to be pumped, treated and released to a nearby wetland. He also said Enbridge did not notify the ministry of the groundwater situation.

The agency referred the case to the Clearwater County prosecutor for criminal prosecution, saying Minnesota law makes it a crime to take state waters without a permit.

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“The DNR is committed to its role as regulator of this project and takes seriously its responsibility to protect and manage natural resources within the framework of applicable state law,” the commissioner said. of the DNR, Sarah Strommen, in a press release.

“Enbridge’s actions are clear violations of state law and also of the public trust. This should never have happened, and we hold the company fully responsible.

Enbridge said Friday it has been working with Minnesota since June on the issue and has a corrective action plan in place to stop the groundwater flow. He says he is committed to restoring and will work closely with the agency on a resolution.

“We share a strong desire to protect Minnesota’s waters and environment, and we are committed to restoring them,” Enbridge spokeswoman Tracy Larsson said in an email. “We will continue to work closely with the agency on the resolution of this matter.”

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Line 3 will be in service by year’s end, despite legal challenges: Enbridge

The Enbridge Line 3 replacement is expected to be in service by the end of the year. The $9.3 billion project is expected to add approximately 370,000 barrels per day of western Canadian crude oil export capacity to the United States.

The Minnesota leg of the project – the last remaining section to be completed – has been met with protests along the route, with more than 500 protesters having been arrested or convicted since December.

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Opponents of the project – including Indigenous groups White Earth Band of Ojibwe and Red Lake Band of Chippewa, as well as environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Honor the Earth – say the Line 3 expansion will accelerate climate change and will also pose a risk of oil spills in environmentally sensitive areas.

The Line 3 expansion is a critical project for Canada’s energy sector, which has been crippled by a lack of pipeline infrastructure in recent years. A December IHS Markit report found that delays in expanding export pipeline capacity contributed to lower prices in Western Canada, representing a $17 billion loss to the oil industry. gross over the past five years.

© 2021 The Canadian Press