Saskatchewan’s provincial auditor says the province has only implemented two of seven recommendations her office made four years ago to improve oil pipeline safety.
The auditor’s office said in 2012 that the Ministry of Energy and Resources did not have effective ways to ensure full compliance with laws for pipeline construction and operation.
It said one problem is that the ministry doesn’t collect enough information to know if pipelines are properly maintained or if operators can adequately respond to emergencies.
Auditor Judy Ferguson says her office would like to see better policies to guide staff on monitoring pipeline operators, which would help determine when inspections might be needed.
She’d also like to see clearer laws on who is responsible in government for making sure pipeline operators clean up spills.
Her comments come after a Husky Energy pipeline leak detected on July 21 spilled up to 250,000 litres of oil mixed with a lighter hydrocarbon called a diluent into the North Saskatchewan River near Maidstone.
Husky has said it is committed to completing a full and thorough investigation.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall insists the province has been taking steps to “bolster regulation and inspection.”
“I want to highlight the fact that we have removed other duties from those involved in inspecting and did it prior to this event, so that we could have them focus solely on the safety of the pipeline system in the province,” Wall said Wednesday.
He made his comments while visiting North Battleford, one of the cities that had to stop getting water from the river due to the spill.
Wall said he doesn’t know whether better regulation and enforcement would have prevented the spill.
“It’s hard to know for certain until we know exactly the reason for the rupture. Again, we know the location of it, but not the reason,” he said.
Ferguson said Wednesday she’ll look at the pipeline issue again this fall and report back next spring.
“From our view, it’s an important area and when we go in and have a look this time around, we’re hoping to see better progress,” she said.