Enbridge ordered to pay $ 3.32 million for violating aquifer and violating environmental laws

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday that Enbridge was to pay $ 3.32 million for violating environmental laws.

According to the statement, Enbridge pierced the containment layer of an artesian aquifer near a limestone marsh next to the Clearbrook Terminal.

The breach resulted in unauthorized appropriation of groundwater during construction of the Line 3 pipeline.

Enbridge began work on the Clearbrook Terminal site earlier this year.

Independent environmental monitors, working for the DNR and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, first observed unusual amounts of water in the trench in late January.

In mid-June, MNR identified a potential rupture of the aquifer containment layer at the construction site of the Clearbrook terminal.

Until September 5, the Enbridge breach resulted in an estimated release of approximately 24.2 million gallons of groundwater from the aquifer.

MNR says this water was pumped from the trench, treated to remove sediment, and released to a nearby wetland.

A limestone bog wetland has strict statutory protections that depend on mineral-rich groundwater to thrive.

Plans submitted by Enbridge to MNR called for the use of traditional methods of constructing trenches to a depth of 8 to 10 feet.

Instead, Enbridge constructed the trench to a depth of about 18 feet, with sheet piles installed to a depth of 28 feet.

This deflection led to the breach, resulting in an uncontrolled flow of groundwater into the trench.

Enbridge did not advise MNR of the groundwater situation at the Clearbrook Terminal.

The $ 3.32 million Enbridge must pay includes $ 300,000 in up-front mitigation funds to pay for the loss of groundwater resources, $ 250,000 for MNR’s monitoring of the limestone swamps near the Breccia Breccia. aquifer and an administrative penalty of $ 20,000, the maximum allowed by state law.

Enbridge is also to place $ 2.75 million in receivership for restoration and mitigation of any damage to the wetland.

The MNR Restoration Order also requires Enbridge to implement numerous plans to remedy the damage caused, and Enbridge must also fund a re-inspection of all areas along the entire route where construction depths have deviated. plans.

This matter is also being referred to the Clearwater County Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution, for appropriation of state waters without obtaining a permit.