Husky Energy changes day it discovered Saskatchewan oil pipeline spill

  • UPDATE: Husky Energy clarifies incident report
  • NEW: Sask. government waiting for full report
  • PDWA lifted for Melfort and area
WATCH ABOVE: Prince Albert officials call the situation here oil spill in the north Saskatchewan river has forced its water treatment plant to stop intake. The city manager says there's enough drinking water for the next few days - however its main response plan is “experiencing hiccups." Joel Senick reports.

Husky Energy has changed details about when it discovered its oil pipeline spill into the North Saskatchewan River.

Earlier this week, the company filed a report that said it found the leak of up to 250,000 litres of blended crude oil at 8 p.m. on July 20 and notified the Saskatchewan government about 14 hours later.

READ MORE: Pipeline ‘anomalies’ detected night before leak into North Saskatchewan River

A new report that has been sent to the province amends the date the breach was discovered to 10 a.m. on July 21. Husky (TSX:HSE) says it told the province of the spill about 30 minutes later.

Last week, the company had said it found “pressure anomalies” in the pipeline on the evening of July 20 and shut down the line the next morning.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: PWDA lifted for some communities affected by Sask. oil spill

Husky spokesman Mel Duvall said the company made the change because the first report was based on a miscommunication.

“We wanted to clarify the report to provide the most accurate information available,” he said Thursday in an email to The Canadian Press.

The provincial government declined to answer questions about the updated report.

READ MORE: ‘It’s not as bad as what people fear’: Local expert on North Saskatchewan River oil spill

Laurie Pushor, deputy minister in the Ministry of the Economy, said the government wanted to complete a full investigation of the spill first.

“We are going to reserve our thoughts and opinions on specific items in relation to the incident until such time as we have all of the facts gathered,” he said.

The government estimates the oil slick from the spill has travelled more than 500 kilometres down the river. Cleanup efforts have been focused mainly along a 20-kilometre stretch from the leak near Maidstone, Sask.

Also on Thursday, a precautionary boil-water advisory for the city of Melfort and a number of outlying communities was lifted. The region normally takes its drinking water from the North Saskatchewan, but the arrival of the slick at the intake earlier this week forced a switch to a former reservoir. The advisory was issued because of concerns about the quality of the reservoir water.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: PDWA lifted for some communities affected by Sask. oil spill

The province’s Water Security Agency lifted the advisory because the quality was better than anticipated.

“It is back to water use as usual,” said Melfort Mayor Rick Lang.

Intakes for the cities of North Battleford and Prince Albert, which also get their drinking water from the river, remained closed due to the oil spill. Measures to conserve drinking water were still in place.

Work was ongoing to pipe in water to Prince Albert’s treatment plant from the South Saskatchewan River about 30 kilometres away. It was hoped that would be completed by Friday.

Saskatchewan’s Environment Ministry said water samples from the North Saskatchewan were being analyzed, but there were no results yet.

READ MORE: TransCanada says Saskatchewan oil pipeline spill is shaking public confidence

The CEO of TransCanada,the company behind the proposed Energy East Pipeline, said the Husky oil spill could increase public skepticism of such projects.

Russ Girling said in an interview that oil spills shake public confidence and TransCanada (TSX:TRP) will learn what it can from the Husky spill to improve pipeline safety.

Here is a list of events and details stemming from the leak:

Story continues below advertisement

July 20 – Anomalies detected in pipeline near Maidstone around 8 p.m., according to a post on Husky Energy website on July 26. It says crews are sent out but no leak found.

July 21 – The same update says company shut down pipeline as a precaution at 6 a.m. A sheen is spotted on the river and emergency response kicks into gear. Saskatchewan government gets word of the spill about 10:30 a.m.

July 22 – North Battleford shuts off its water supply intake from river as the slick hits the city.

July 25 – City of Prince Albert shuts off its water supply intake from river.

July 26 – Saskatchewan Water Security Agency says federal officials confirm there is oil under the water and along the shoreline. Booms redeployed to limit spread of oil. City of Melfort switches to an old reservoir and issues boil-water advisory.

July 27 – Agency warns public not to eat fish from river and to limit swimming, water-skiing and eating fish. There is a caution about allowing pets or livestock near the water. Province says the section of pipe that has been shut down is 10.6 kilometres long.

July 28 – Husky revises details around discovery of spill. Says breach was discovered around 10 a.m. on July 21. Provincial government says oil slick has travelled about 500 kilometres, but is dissipating as it moves downstream. Cleanup and shore monitoring focuses mainly on an area within 20 kilometres of the spill site. Boil-water advisory lifted in Melfort as water from backup reservoir found to be OK.

Sponsored content