The company responsible for one of the largest inland oil spills in U.S. history will restore or create 300 acres of wetlands as part of a sweeping agreement to improve the Kalamazoo River watershed in southwestern Michigan.
The settlement comes nearly five years after a broken pipeline released more than 800,000 gallons of oil.
Enbridge is required to continue monitoring the impacts of the spill on the environment. The company also agreed to spend $75 million, much of it on various projects, including a dam removal and improved access to boating and fishing on the river. Some have been finished.
Those projects include 300 acres of wetlands valued at $30 million. Wetlands are considered to be crucial in a watershed, serving as nature’s filter in absorbing and releasing water and providing habitat to fish and wildlife.
The improvements are on top of Enbridge’s costs directly related to the spill, which have been pegged at more than $1 billion.
A pipeline ruptured in July 2010, spoiling approximately 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek. The line runs through Michigan and carries oil between Ontario, Canada, and Griffith, Indiana.
“Everyone has this image of a river coated with oil. We’ve come a long way,” said Mark DuCharme of Department of Environmental Quality remediation division.
There is no sign of oil on the surface. Small mouth bass, blue herons and turtles are however visible.
“You’re not seeing it, but we do know there’s oil left in the system,” DuCharme said. “It’s left in the banks at some spots. It’s left in the bottom of the river. But it’s a little bit of oil. It truly is residual.”
(Source: Chesterton Tribune)