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Enbridge faces millions in fines for slow reporting of Wisconsin leak

Rick Solem



FILE - In this June 29, 2018 photo, tanks stand at the Enbridge Energy terminal in Superior, Wis.Minnesota utility regulators reaffirmed their support Thursday, June 25, 2020, for Enbridge’s plan to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted 4-1 to reject petitions for reconsideration filed by several Ojibwe bands, environmental groups and the state Commerce Department. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Enbridge Energy faces millions of dollars in fines after environmental regulators said the Canadian company failed to promptly report a 2019 leak from a pipeline near Fort Atkinson in southeast Wisconsin.

More than 1,200 gallons of petroleum product leaked from the underground pipeline, contaminating soil and groundwater with toxic chemicals, according to reports the pipeline company filed with state and federal authorities.

The Department of Natural Resources this week notified the company that it violated two sections of state code by waiting more than 15 months to report the leak, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Friday.

The DNR has scheduled a May 17 conference with Enbridge to discuss the alleged violations, which the agency said will determine its enforcement decision. Violations can be punished with fines of up to $5,000 per day.

Enbridge spokeswoman Juli Kellner said the company continues to “work collaboratively with the DNR on reviewing and, as needed, improving our reporting processes.”

The 20-inch pipeline runs from Manhattan, Illinois, to a terminal in Canada and carries “diluent,” a petroleum product used to thin crude oil for transportation.

The leak was found and repaired three weeks after an odor was detected during a routine site visit in April 2019, but Enbridge did not notify authorities for 15 months. State law requires immediate reporting of hazardous substance spills, though the threshold for petroleum products other than gasoline is 5 gallons.

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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