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Enbridge Claims No Responsibility

February 1, 2011

The Michigan Messenger reported that six months after a million gallons of tar sands crude oil contaminated the Kalamazoo River, Enbridge claims it is not responsible. Immediately after the spill occurred CEO of Enbridge, Pat Daniels, made a public apology and told residents in the area that Enbridge would be compensating them for the spill. During this time, officials declared a state of emergency and recommended that residents evacuate the area due to heightened levels benzene in the air.

But six months after the spill, the river remains closed and some residents have not been able to get compensation through the claims process set up by the company.

Attorney Bill Mayhall represents 10 households in Marshall and Battle Creek that were not able to find satisfactory arrangements with the pipeline company for property damages and health issues such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, and respiratory issues.

While the residents file suit, Enbridge changes its tune. The company now claims that it should not be held responsible for the spill.

Enbridge argues that it cannot be held liable for the oil spill because it has followed all relevant laws, regulations and industry standards and the damage was not foreseeable.

The company also argues that the charges against it are improper “because federal, state and/or local authorities and agencies have mandated, directed, approved and/or ratified the alleged actions or omissions.”

Many residents and businesses still believe that Enbridge should be held responsible for not properly maintaining their pipeline and insufficiently protecting the communities from the damage that occurred during the spill.

However, this raises legitimate concerns about how much responsibility oil companies will take when spills occur. These concerns need to be addressed during the planning process for pipelines, if oil companies are going to place the blame elsewhere if and when a spill occurs.

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