A Saskatchewan government official, who did not want to be named, said booms set up to contain a pipeline spill on the North Saskatchewan River have failed.
According to Calgary-based Husky Energy, 200,000 to 250,000 litres of crude oil and other material leaked from its pipeline and into the river on Thursday.
The pipeline was turned off and booms were put in place to contain the spill. However, a government official said the oil was lifted overtop of the booms by high water levels and headed toward North Battleford.
The government began putting booms in the river further downstream and have ramped up skimming efforts to try and remove the oil.
On Friday, North Battleford shut down its water intake plant and officials said the community still had a three-day supply of water.
Prince Albert, a city of about 35,000 people, posted a release on Facebook Friday evening warning residents that it would likely shut down its water treatment plant intake from the river on Sunday as a precaution.
Prince Albert officials asked residents to stock up on water by filling bathtubs and water jugs to prepare for the possible shutdown.
“It is anticipated that a plume from an upstream oil spill will be reaching Prince Albert as early as Sunday, July 24,” the release said.
Prince Albert officials said its reservoirs would be filled to capacity in the event a shutdown is necessary and that it would be able to provide potable water for two days.
Officials also said they were working on a long-term contingency plan in the event one is needed.
On Thursday, the Environment Ministry’s Ralph Bock said the Water Security Agency would take samples from the river past the boom to check for any hydrocarbons.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who is known for his ardent support of pipelines, said while an oil spill was not something anyone wanted to see, his support for the infrastructure continues.
“The facts remain that if we’re not moving by a pipeline, it’s going to move … (by rail). We know that rail is actually more susceptible to spills and spills are often more intense,” Wall said while at a premiers meeting in Whitehorse, Yukon.
-With files from The Canadian Press.