Kalamazoo River Oil Spill

Date: May 19th, 2015

Topic: Energy, Natural Resources, Water Pollution

Type: Lawsuit vs. Private Actors

Jurisdiction: Michigan

On July 25, 2010, an oil pipeline ruptured over a wetland near Marshall, Michigan, allowing over 1 million gallons of heavy crude oil to flow into Talmadge Creek, a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. It was the largest land-based oil spill in United States history. The spill cost the company that operates the pipeline, Enbridge Energy, over $1.2 billion to clean up. The high costs were driven in part by the composition of the oil, which causes it to initially float on top of water but eventually sink to the bottom.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality brought suit against Enbridge Energy for cleanup costs and restoration of the affected area. The suit culminated in a settlement agreement whereby Enbridge Energy agreed to pay $75 million to the state for various clean up and restoration projects.

Citation: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Bill Schuette v. Enbridge Energy (2015)

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