KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The former chief of the U.S. Department of Justice's environmental crimes section said on March 4 that Enbridge will likely face criminal charges over its 2010 Michigan pipeline rupture.
On July 26, an Enbridge oil pipeline that runs between Griffith, Indiana and Sarnia, Ontario ruptured in Marshall, Mich., spilling an estimated 819,000 gallons of sticky Canadian tarsands crude oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River.
"I would expect the federal government to bring criminal negligence charges against Enbridge under the Clean Water Act, which are the same charges they are likely to seek for the Gulf oil spill." said David Uhlmann, who led DOJ's environmental crimes section for seven years and now teaches at the University of Michigan.
In order to prove negligence in such a case, the government only needs to prove that the company failed to use reasonable care, he said. "Negligence is not going to be hard to prove given the lack of maintenance and the extent of damage from the spill.:
Pipeline tests by the company showed corrosion problems on the Michigan pipeline more than a year before the spill and company officials were arguing with regulators for more time to fix the problem as the leak occurred.