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Saskatoon chapter supports call for inquiry into Husky oil spill in North Saskatchewan River

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

On November 21, four months after the pipeline spill, Husky released a report that said ground movement, or “geotechnical activity”, triggered by heavy rain and weak soil conditions had caused the rupture. Saskatchewan NDP environment critic Cathy Sproule says, “What I don’t see in this report is how (the spill) was handled — when it was found out, any delays that may have happened in the 14 hours between when an anomaly was detected and when the actual spill was reported.”

The Ksiskatchewan Water Alliance Network has called for an independent inquiry into the incident.

Local activist Don Kossick has written, “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. …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 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. Earlier this week, CBC reported, “It’s still not business as usual for cities downstream of Husky Energy’s oil spill. Officials with the City of North Battleford said they continue to pipe water in from the neighbouring town of Battleford.”

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, “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.