PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – The mayor of a city affected by an oil spill in the North Saskatchewan River says a report by the company responsible hasn’t answered all his questions.
Prince Albert had to shut down its intake from the river and find other water sources for almost two months after the July spill.
A Husky Energy (TSX:HSE) report last week said shifting ground caused a pipeline to break and leak 225,000 litres of heavy crude oil and diluent.
About 40 per cent ended up in the river.
Mayor Greg Dionne said he wants to know exactly when the leak happened and how it was able to float the 380 kilometres between the spill site and his city.
Dionne said he isn’t educated in the science of ground movement and now has questions about the safety of pipelines which cross rivers.
“Where don’t we have a problem with sloping in the river?” Dionne asked Monday. “I have a concern … wherever there is an oil line going along the river bank. Has that been compromised or weakened?”
Husky’s report said the break happened about 160 metres from the riverbank. It said major rainfall, poor drainage and a weak clay foundation were likely to be behind the ground movement.
Dionne called for tight monitoring.
“We’re not just worried about what happened in the past, we want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The city is still waiting for its own independent results, he said.
“We just didn’t count on the province or Husky. We had engaged our own independent consultant’s review and to work with our technical people.”
He expects the city’s internal report to be ready shortly.
Dionne said the city was left on its own by Husky in the days after the spill, which led to challenges getting information.
He also said the city will be issuing more bills to Husky.
“We’ll have some future bills because of some of the repairs.”
A few stretches of river bank along a temporary pipeline that carried water from the regional park to the city need to be fixed, Dionne said. The repairs cannot be done over the winter, so the bills cannot be issued to Husky yet.
“So far, they’ve been very co-operative in paying the bills. The president did give my city manager and myself the assurance that they will make us whole.
Dionne called the spill a learning experience which improved the water treatment plant.
“Today, I believe our plant is even better, because we’ve added three more barriers of filters to better protect our water.”
In an emailed statement, Husky said the company takes full responsibility for what happened and will continue to work with communities to make the situation right
The cities of North Battleford and Melfort also had to shut off their water intakes.
Husky has said it has spent about $90 million responding to the leak and wrapped up shoreline cleanup efforts in October after recovering about 210,000 litres of what spilled. (CKBI, The Canadian Press)