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PUC: Enbridge must release spill data

Enbridge must release oil spill predictions for the proposed Line 3 pipeline replacement, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ruled Thursday. The data Enbridge submitted on the risk of accidental oil spills over seven water crossings was pr...

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Enbridge must release oil spill predictions for the proposed Line 3 pipeline replacement, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ruled Thursday.

The data Enbridge submitted on the risk of accidental oil spills over seven water crossings was previously granted trade-secret status, and Administrative Law Judge Ann O'Reilly this fall deferred to the commission as to whether it should be public, according to PUC documents.

The commission on Thursday determined the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act requires release of the data and ordered Enbridge to refile documents, including parts of the environmental impact statement, allowing the public to access spill data.

Enbridge has 10 days to comply with the order or challenge the decision in District Court, said PUC Executive Secretary Daniel Wolf.

The company said Thursday it is "considering our options at this time."

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"Enbridge takes safe operation of our pipelines and energy infrastructure very seriously," Enbridge spokeswoman Shannon Gustafson wrote in an email. "Clearly, there is a mutual appreciation for safety in all respects even in the context of public access and participation."

The Line 3 replacement would cross 337 miles of Minnesota carrying 760,000 barrels of crude oil per day on its route from Alberta to the Enbridge terminal in Superior. The PUC is expected to decide next spring whether to approve or deny the pipeline; trial-like evidentiary hearings on the project are set to begin in St. Paul next month.

Brooks Johnson was an enterprise/investigative reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune from 2016 to 2019.
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