Minnesota DNR Order Enbridge to $3.32M For Failure to Follow Environmental Laws

(AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

DULUTH, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has ordered Enbridge to pay $3.32 million for failing to follow environmental laws.

“Enbridge breached the confining layer of an artesian aquifer, resulting in an unauthorized groundwater appropriation during the construction of the Line 3 replacement project near Enbridge’s Clearbrook Terminal,” Minnesota DNR officials said in a Thursday afternoon press release.

Included in the $3.32 million mitigation and penalty funds is a restoration order requiring $300,000 in initial mitigation funds to pay for the loss of groundwater resources, $250,000 for DNR monitoring of calcareous fen wetlands near the area of the aquifer breach, and a $20,000 administrative penalty order.

Additionally, $2.75 million has been ordered to be placed in escrow for restoration and mitigation of any damage to the calcareous fen wetlands.

Part of the DNR’s restoration order also requires Enbridge to implement a restoration plan to stop unauthorized groundwater flow within 30 days.

“DNR is committed to its role as a regulator on this project and is taking seriously our responsibility to protect and manage natural resources within existing state law,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “Enbridge’s actions are clear violations of state law and also of public trust. This never should have happened, and we are holding the company fully accountable.”

The DNR says it has referred this incident to the Clearwater County Attorney for criminal prosecution.

Enbridge released the following statement Thursday evening:

“We have just received the communication from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and are in the process of reviewing the document. 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 are committed to restoration.  We will continue to work closely with the agency on the resolution of this matter.

Replacing Line 3 is an essential modernization and safety replacement project, which replaces an aging pipeline with modern infrastructure.  The project is nearly complete in Minnesota, and is providing significant economic benefits for counties, small businesses, Native American communities, and union members — creating thousands of family-sustaining construction jobs, millions of dollars in local spending and tax revenues.”


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