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Health, Science and Environment

Enbridge fined for minor safety violations. Critics say it fits a larger pattern

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Enbridge Energy is facing a roughly $120,000 fine for “probable violations” of pipeline safety regulations.

The violations are relatively minor, but critics say they’re part of a larger problem.

The fines are part of a 2018 audit conducted by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of Enbridge’s entire Lakehead pipeline system.

The audit indicates a series of minor violations - including failing to conduct safety tests of pressure relief valves and not conducting a post-accident review following the release of hazardous liquid in 2016.

Jeff Insko is an activist who monitors Enbridge violations and lives along Line 6. He said while the errors may appear minor - they fit a broader pattern of disregard for safety concerns from Enbridge.

“What this demonstrates is a lack of concern and seriousness for the rules and regulations that they profess to take very seriously,” he said.

Insko said what is particularly worrying is that the violations have taken place as the company faces increased scrutiny.

“The thing that’s most stunning to me about this and dismaying is that these are things that are occurring when Enbridge is under a consent decree with the Department of Justice and under more scrutiny in the region than probably the entirety of their existence,” he said.

Even the fine, according to Insko, likely won’t be enough to change the company’s behavior.

“As we’ve seen repeatedly, especially here in Michigan there are essentially no consequences,” he said. “And therefore no incentives for Enrbdige to comply with the rules and regulations that they are required to comply with and that they say they take seriously.”

In a written response, a spokesperson for Enbridge said it’s important to note the audit covered 1,900 miles of pipeline.

According to the spokesperson, “None of the findings show or pose an immediate safety concern.”