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Settlement reached in Enbridge oil spill

Posted: 8:05 PM, Jul 20, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-21 11:31:51Z

 Living just eight miles away, Lloyd Hagan makes sure to take advantage of the Kalamazoo River.

"It's a beautiful morning to paddle-board down the river, so I'm going down to the dam." he explained.

But, six years ago, instead of spending time on the River for recreation, Hagan was rescuing wildlife.

"We could smell it. We could smell it it was that bad, it was nauseating us. That's how bad the fumes were from the petroleum," Hagan explained.

On July 25, 2010, a piece of the Lakehead Pipeline ruptured. And, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 840,000 gallons of oil began to leak through 35 miles of the River.

"At the height of the cleanup, we had over 2,000 people in this area in personal protective gear all managing to clean it up," explained EPA Regional Administrator, Robert Kaplan. "As we went down the River today, you can see no evidence of it."

And to make sure it stays that way, the EPA and Department of Justice are fining the Enbridge oil company $61 million for violating the Clean Water Act. Plus, the company will pay the EPA $5 million for their cleanup efforts and it'll spend $110 million on preventative measures.

"It's been a transformation for our company," VP of U.S. Operations, Brad Shamla said. "The experience, which has been very humbling, has made us a better, safer organization today and we're more focused than ever on the safety and reliability of our pipeline systems."

Several boat landings, as well as islands throughout the river are just some of the additions that Enbridge put in during the cleanup. And, residents appreciate it.

Hagan added, "There's been a lot of improvement. A lot of work has gone in to making the River better and cleaner and, a lot of new facilities that weren't here before. So, we get to enjoy the River more."

And he hopes it stays that way.

To keep the water quality up to standards, Enbridge has teams out checking the river every day. Once a week, the DEQ helps out with the testing.

The EPA and DOJ are asking for public comment on the settlement, which should be finalized in the next 30 days.

So, you have 30 days to tell them what you think. Go to www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.