September 2, 2016 7:48 pm
Updated: September 5, 2016 1:05 pm

Independent report looks at Husky response to Saskatchewan oil spill

WATCH ABOVE: Coverage of the Husky Energy oil spill near Maidstone into the North Saskatchewan River


If Husky Energy reacted sooner to an oil spill in the North Saskatchewan River, downstream drinking water likely wouldn’t have been affected, according to a co-author of an independent report on the incident.

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“Had they found the spill as soon as it happened, let’s say within an hour, that oil would not have had a chance to affect the water supply of [Prince Albert] or North Battleford,” said Ricardo Segovia, a hydrogeologist for New Mexico-based E-Tech International. On Thursday, the group released an “independent primary assessment” of the oil spill that occurred in late July.

“They would have been able to contain the spill in the first few kilometers of that river stretch,” Segovia added.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan water intakes closed after oil spill could reopen before winter

The report states there was a 14-hour delay in response to the spill, however a Husky spokesperson pushed back against the findings Friday and said “that there are a number of basic errors” within the report.

A timeline provided days after the spill by the Calgary-based company states “the pipeline monitoring system indicated pressure anomalies” hours before a sheen was reported on the river. A pipe near Maidstone had spilled an estimated 225,000 liters of blended crude oil, some of which entered the river.

“Our response was immediate upon discovery of the leak and was informed by the responsible provincial and federal regulators as well as the foremost scientists and experts in the field,” Husky Energy spokesperson Mel Duvall said in an emailed statement Friday.

READ MORE: North Battleford, Sask. lifts business water restrictions following oil spill

In an interview, Segovia said “one doesn’t detect abnormalities in pressure unless something’s happening to that oil. So there had to be something leaking out of the pipe when they first detected the anomaly.”

“Those were very critical hours in determining how far the oil would go,” he added.

READ MORE: Nearly half of Sask. residents approve provincial government’s response to Husky spill: Mainstreet poll

The E-Tech report was commissioned by concerned indigenous and non indigenous groups near the spill, according to Segovia. He added that the visitors spoke with area residents and took water samples during a four-day visit to the province in mid-August.

Segovia said he expected his group to return to Saskatchewan in the coming weeks for additional testing.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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