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Enbridge ducking liability for Michigan spill, locals claim

Six months after Enbridge’s Michigan pipeline spill, some residents claim the company is not taking their health concerns seriously.

“It all makes me feel like I don't count for anything – that I'm just another statistic,” Terry Reniger told the Detroit News.

The 53-year old started experiencing liver problems after a pipeline operated by Calgary-based Enbridge spilled more than three million litres of oil sands crude into the Kalamazoo River system.

Doctors tell Reniger he needs to pay thousands of dollars to test whether his health problems are linked to the spill. Enbridge has reportedly been reluctant to cover those costs.

"They made a contract with the people around here that they would pay all legitimate damages and promised to make them whole," local attorney Millard Mayhall said. "With the people I'm representing, they're not doing that."

Michigan residents have reportedly filed over 2,300 compensation claims for a wide range of spill-related issues, including medical bills.

Hundreds of people living near the spill site have reported headaches, nausea and breathing problems, the Tyee reported last December.

“[Enbridge] remains committed to paying all non-fraudulent claims that are directly related to the incident,” spokeswoman Terri Larson told the Michigan Messenger.

Local observers have praised the company’s clean-up efforts, which will likely continue for years.

Enbridge proposes to build a pipeline connecting Alberta’s oil sands to coastal Kitimat.

Opponents argue its plans to ship crude via supertanker to China risk environmental catastrophe and billions in taxpayer dollars.

Geoff Dembicki reports for The Tyee.

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