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Map turtle ready for release after 2010 spill. Photo by USFWS.

Map turtle ready for release after 2010 spill. Photo by USFWS.

Enbridge Must Restore Environment Injured
by 2010 Kalamazoo River Oil Spill

Nearly five years after one of the country’s largest inland oil spills, a settlement was reached with Enbridge for resource restoration projects along the Kalamazoo River in Michigan along with an additional sum of nearly $4 million. The natural resources damage settlement addresses environmental injuries caused by the 2010 rupture of Enbridge’s Line 6B pipeline in Michigan that spilled nearly 840,000 gallons of crude oil into Talmadge Creek, a tributary of the Kalamazoo River.

Natural resource trustees reached a settlement for natural resource damages, in conjunction with a settlement between the State of Michigan and Enbridge. The state settlement addresses cleanup, along with provisions for certain restoration projects and compensation. The natural resource damage settlement provides funding to the trustees to conduct natural resource restoration, reimburses agencies for assessment and restoration costs, and incorporates additional requirements for Enbridge from the settlement between the State of Michigan and Enbridge. The two settlements together will result in restoration, compensation and reimbursement of costs expected to cost Enbridge at least $62 million.

In a draft damage assessment and restoration plan, the trustees propose to implement the following projects with funding from the natural resource damage settlement:

  1. replace undersized culverts, remove existing obstacles to water flow, and increase floodplain capacity in two tributaries to the Kalamazoo River
  2. control Eurasian water milfoil, and other invasive species, within the Fort Custer State Recreation Area to provide improved habitat for warm water fisheries
  3. restore 175 acres of oak savanna uplands in Fort Custer State Recreation Area
  4. track and protect turtle reproduction in the impacted area of the Kalamazoo River
  5. restore wild rice beds in suitable areas along the Kalamazoo River
  6. document the historic use and knowledge of natural resources by members of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of the Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe) and the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi to guide restoration and stewardship.

The natural resource damage settlement also incorporates certain requirements from the state’s settlement with Enbridge, including requirements to:

  • restore and monitor the 320 acres of wetlands affected by the spill and response activities
  • permanently restore, create or otherwise protect at least 300 additional acres of wetland habitat in compensation for wetland losses
  • evaluate stream function within the restored areas of Talmadge Creek and perform additional actions as needed
  • conduct monitoring and restoration activities related to the removal of large woody debris during the spill response
  • fund the State of Michigan to monitor fish contamination, fish populations and the health of stream bottom communities along Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River.

Enbridge has already implemented additional projects that relate to losses of natural resources:

  1. implemented projects along the Kalamazoo River to enhance recreational opportunities at five locations
  2. created the Kalamazoo River Community Recreational Foundation including a $2.5 million endowment to assure perpetual care of these projects
  3. removed the dam at Ceresco on the Kalamazoo River and restored over 2.5 miles of river channel that was previously impounded.

Natural resource trustees include the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan Department of the Attorney General, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Tribe, and the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of the Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe).

The Enbridge spill Lakehead Line 6B pipeline affected approximately 38 miles of the Kalamazoo River. The oil impacted more than 1,560 acres of stream and river habitat as well as floodplain and upland areas, injuring birds, mammals, reptiles and other wildlife. The river was immediately closed to the public and sections remained closed for several years, reducing recreational and tribal uses of the river.

For more information on the cleanup of the 2010 pipeline discharges, visit http://www.mi.gov/oilspill and http://www.epa.gov/enbridgespill.

Last updated: June 8, 2020