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The Council supports call for probe into Husky oil spill in North Saskatchewan River

An oil-soaked heron rescued from the North Saskatchewan River this summer. Photo by CBC.

The Council of Canadians supports the call for an independent probe into the Husky oil spill in the North Saskatchewan River.

In the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, our friend and ally Don Kossick writes, “Husky Energy was supposed to file a major and conclusive report on the disastrous oil spill in the North Saskatchewan River to the provincial government. Instead, it filed a one pager and asked the government for an extension later into November. This request was granted.”

Kossick says, “This raises a series of questions. Why, with the time elapsed since the spill this last summer, has Husky not been able to analyze what happened and the destruction caused by the oil in the river system? What is the role of government in letting Husky take the time it wants to file a report?”

He highlights, “Both Husky Energy and the Brad Wall government need to be examined in what they did and did not do to stop and mitigate this disaster. Both are culpable in what happened. This underlines the need for an independent assessment of what took place.”

The Ksiskatchewan Water Alliance Network has called for an independent inquiry and an independent audit of the costs — both now and in the future.

As Kossick points out, “An independent water study supported by civil society groups has already raised serious concerns about Husky’s 14-hour delay in reacting to the spill, and about the harmful impact of the released chemicals on communities, animals and amphibian life along the river.”

The Council of Canadians joined with allies to commission a scientific investigation by E-Tech International into the July 20 Husky oil spill. Their report was based on the results of nine composite sediment samples collected on August 16-17. E-Tech hydrogeologist Ricardo Segovia has warned, “[The spill] is going to cause long-term problems. You can’t go back to the way things were before … because there’s that chance that (contaminants) can be stirred up from the sediments, you have to be constantly monitoring those water intakes for the next several years at least.”

The Husky oil spill compromised the drinking water supply for more than 70,600 people – in North Battleford, Prince Albert, Melfort, and the Muskoday First Nation. The three cities had to shut off their water plant intakes and secure alternate sources of drinking water, while the Muskoday First Nation had to truck in its water.

This serves as a warning of the potential impacts of the 890,000 barrel per day Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline (which would cross 1,309 watercourses) and the 1.1 million barrel per day TransCanada Energy East pipeline (which would cross 2,900 waterways).

As Kossick notes in the Star-Phoenix, “Oil and water do not mix. We as citizens have to be vigilant about protecting the water that gives us life.”

For more on the Ksiskatchewan Water Alliance Network, please click here.