Minnesota regulators have ordered energy infrastructure giant Enbridge to pay more than $3 million after failing to follow the environmental laws of the state.
In a press release, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said it decided to issue the fine after an investigation revealed that “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 the company’s Clearbrook Terminal.
The confining layer’s breach then led to the leakage of more than 24 million gallons of groundwater.
According to DNR, the $3.32 million fine includes “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.”
“Enbridge’s actions are a clear violation of state law, and also of the public trust,” DNR Deputy Commissioner Barb Naramore said. “That is why we are using all of the tools in our authority to address the situation.”
The department’s order also required Enbridge to carry out a restoration plan to stop the groundwater leakage within 30 days.
DNR also said that referred the company’s violation to the Clearwater County Attorney to conduct a criminal prosecution.
If Enbridge fails to comply with the restoration order issued by DNR, the company will be subject to additional misdemeanor charges under the state law of Minnesota.
“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,” DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said in a statement. “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.”
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