Kalamazoo River Oil Spill Cleanup Worker Settles Lawsuit

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John Bolenbaugh, a former cleanup worker at the Enbridge Energy oil spill in Michigan's Kalamazoo River, has settled a lawsuit against his former employer, SET Environmental, for wrongful termination. Bolenbaugh says it was the only way to pursue Enbridge and has vowed to sue it for spilling 1.1 million gallons of oil into the waterway in 2010, the Battle Creek Enquirer reports.

* Bolenbaugh, 39, of Athens, Mich., says he was fired when he claimed to have evidence that SET wasn't cleaning the oil but instead hiding it. Bolenbaugh posted videos on his website showing how the oil was being handled.

* Douglas Van Essen, an attorney for SET Environmental, argued Bolenbaugh did not fully understand how oil spills are cleaned. According to MLive, SET officials said Bolenbough was fired for violating company policies by taking pictures of operations and sharing them with Fox News 2 Detroit. These actions are not covered under the Whistleblower Protection Act.

* Neither Bolenbaugh nor Van Essen would say how much the lawsuit was settled for. Bolenbaugh had claimed SET offered him a $200,000 settlement. Van Essen said Bolenbaugh was lying. Van Essen said the settlement was less than what had been previously offered and about what it would cost to end the trial. According to Michigan Radio, Bolenbaugh said the settlement gives him enough money to "fund what I am doing now."

* According to MLive, Bolenbaugh's attorney, Thomas Warnicke, says the settlement gives his client "the resources and means to allow him to continue his efforts on behalf of the community." He added Bolenbaugh was "pursuing any and all alternative legal claims he may have."

* Bolenbaugh told MLive he had not planned to accept a settlement, but given that it meant he could sue Enbridge, he chose to "let SET off." He said he never expected SET to offer him so much. Bolenbough claims SET only settled to prevent him from testifying as he could "prove an oil cover-up."

Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben writes about people, places, events and issues in her home state of "Pure Michigan."

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