In Response: Enbridge has been diligent with Line 3 aquifer repairs

From the column: "We remain dedicated to resolving these matters transparently, quickly, and thoroughly."

Repairs to a punctured aquifer near the Clearbrook terminal in northwestern Minnesota were completed on Jan. 18.
Photo courtesy of Enbridge
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The News Tribune’s March 29 editorial represented a journalistic lesson in the importance of fact checking. In its “Our View” piece, “Enbridge’s transparency lacking in breaches,” the Editorial Board inaccurately peddled a point of view that Enbridge willingly withheld disclosing to the regulator and the public breaches of aquifers during construction of Line 3.

Unfortunately for the media organization and its readers, nothing could be further from the truth.

Two of the three aquifer breach locations were not made public until Mar. 21 because Enbridge was not at liberty to publicly disclose these sites, as the instances were still under review by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Had the newspaper sought our comment, this inaccuracy could have been avoided.

Of critical importance, Enbridge urgently moved planning repair work forward with regulatory agencies, including the DNR and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. We operated under the direction of these agencies both in the public disclosure of the sites and in obtaining approvals to do the repair work. We did not act in isolation.

Also a fact: Enbridge has successfully repaired two of the three impacted aquifer sites — at Clearbrook on Jan. 18 and at LaSalle Creek on Nov. 22. Enbridge has substantially completed repairs at the third site, Mile Post 1102 in southern St. Louis County, which was subject to an extended review of the remedial action plan by the DNR, St. Louis County, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and Minnesota Department of Health, all in consultation with the Fond du Lac Band.


Implementation of the plan for Mile Post 1102 could not start until final regulatory approvals. Repairs for all three sites were implemented as soon as remediation plans were approved.

The vast majority of the water discharged at all three sites was returned to the immediate environment, supporting the least possible impact to water resources and local water tables. A small amount of water was removed for treatment following agency direction.

Also a fact: there was no delay in reporting and no delay in moving forward with the process needed to repair these aquifer sites.

Enbridge learned of these issues at the same time as independent environmental monitors working for state agencies, including the DNR, during the Line 3 construction.

Detailed construction plans for the Line 3 Replacement Project were extensively reviewed and designed in a manner to protect the environment.

In each case, it appears sheet piling, which is a typical construction practice used to reinforce trenches for worker safety, may have played a part in the aquifer issues. We know the same type of issue has occurred on road construction projects, bridge construction, and utility improvements in Minnesota.

Enbridge understands how precious water is to the people of the state. We sincerely regret this happened and are working with industry partners to improve procedures to prevent this from happening again.

We remain dedicated to resolving these matters transparently, quickly, and thoroughly as we continue to work with regulatory agencies on the ongoing restoration and monitoring at all three sites.


Barry Simonson of Duluth is director of the Line 3 Replacement Project for Enbridge.

Barry Simonson.jpg
Barry Simonson

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