Law, Manufacturing, and Sustainability

Energy company settles lawsuit for $6.8M

December 10, 2014
| By AP |
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The energy company responsible for an oil spill in the region has agreed to pay about $6.8 million to settle a class-action lawsuit.

The case

A federal judge must still approve the settlement reached last week by Enbridge, an energy transporter based in Calgary, Alberta.

A pipeline leak spewed more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek in July 2010, resulting in one of the costliest onshore oil spills in U.S. history.

The lawsuit was filed more than three years ago by five people seeking damages, injunctive relief and attorney fees.

Settlement and cleanup costs

The company has agreed to pay about $2.2 million to residents and land owners of properties within 1,000 feet of the Kalamazoo River. Those who lived within 200 feet of the river will split a total payment of $250,000, and those who lived farther away from the river will each receive several hundred dollars, depending on the proximity.

The settlement also includes a $50,000 well-testing program and a $1.5-million general claims fund for reimbursing property owners for spill-related expenses.

The company has also agreed to donate $150,000 to local organizations committed to environmental conservation efforts, such as the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council and the Calhoun Conservation District.

"The settlement has positive outcomes for the local communities in Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties," Enbridge spokesman Jason Manshum said. "We agreed to this settlement as part of our overall commitment to address the concerns of the community."

Enbridge has estimated cleanup costs to be about $1.2 billion, including more than $551 million on response personnel and equipment and $227 million on environmental consultants.

Other cases

Some cases filed separately against the company have been dismissed and will not be eligible for the payments, while nearly 30 have already been settled in Calhoun County Circuit Court. Four more cases are scheduled to go to trial next year.

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