Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Husky Energy Inc. resumed cleanup efforts following a major pipeline spill into the North Saskatchewan River last July.

Husky Energy Inc. resumed cleanup efforts Monday following a major pipeline spill into the North Saskatchewan River last July.

About 15,000 litres of the roughly 225,000 litres of spilled crude is still unaccounted for, and monitoring and sampling will determine if any of the oil is sunken or submerged — and whether or not it can be recovered.

“They will be looking at the entire area that they had covered last year and if any other (impacted) areas are identified, if individuals come forward and identify impacts, they will be looking at those as well,” said Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment spokesman Wes Kotyk.

Husky spokesman Mel Duvall said in an email that the company will be surveying as far down the river as the James Smith Cree Nation and emphasized that the program is “more of a reassessment of the shoreline, as the majority of the work will be to reinspect the shoreline to ensure we got everything in last year’s operation.”

People in the area can expect to see approximately 55 people on site including boat operators and their crews, and specially trained dogs.

North Battleford was one of the cities affected by the spill. The city has been operating on one water plant since the spill and is using special units at the plant to filter out hydrocarbons that may be present due to the spill.

“Those were seen as temporary measures while the river was being tested and we’re going to continue to use those measures until we are reasonably assured that the water is safe,” said the town’s mayor, Ryan Bater.

The city expects to resume operations at the second plant this spring and will discontinue use of the filters once it gets the ok from the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency.

Bater said while “it’s obviously unfortunate that it happened,” Husky has compensated the city for any extra costs the city has incurred.

Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations says he doesn’t trust the numbers that have come out of the investigation into the spill so far. The FSIN has requested to have its own independent source monitor and assess the situation alongside Husky and the Saskatchewan government, but to no avail.

“For us at the FSIN it has always will be about our inherent and treaty rights to our lands and waters, the protection and preservation,” said Cameron, who will continue to fight for First Nations to be involved in the final cleanup.

Husky will continue to process claims that come in but does not expect to provide any additional updates on how much it and its subsidiaries have spent on the spill and its aftermath, according to Duvall.

In February, Husky reported that Husky Midstream Limited Partnership (HMLP) — which is incurring all costs related to the spill — had spent $107 million as of Dec. 31, of which $88 million had been recovered through insurance.

Husky owns a 35 per cent stake in HMLP and operates its assets, which include around 1,900 kilometres of pipelines in the Lloydminster region, where heavy oil is extracted and shipped to the border city for processing.

At least one major bill was outstanding in February: A “significant” invoice from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, which contributed resources to the clean-up effort for months after the spill was discovered.

As the cleanup continues, the ministry said it will provide regular updates on its website: http://www.saskatchewan.ca/business/environmental-protection-and-sustainability/hazardous-materials-and-safe-waste-management/husky-maidstone-oil-spill