Husky oil spill cleanup continues on Sask. river one year after pipeline leak

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WATCH ABOVE: The cleanup effort continues, a year after the Husky Energy oil spill began. A buckled pipeline sent 225 thousand litres of crude oil pouring in and around the North Saskatchewan River. – Jul 20, 2017

Cleanup resulting from the Husky Energy oil spill is expected to continue into August, according to an official with the Saskatchewan government’s Ministry of Environment.

On July 20, a Husky pipeline carrying blended crude oil buckled, eventually leaking 225,000 litres of the material in and around the North Saskatchewan River near Maidstone, Sask.

FULL COVERAGE: North Saskatchewan River Husky oil spill

More than 90 per cent of the blended crude has been recovered, according to Wes Kotyk, assistant deputy minister with the Environmental Protection Division for the Ministry of Environment.

“Cleanup’s been effective and is expected to be completed in August,” Kotyk said.

Crews are no longer extracting oil directly from the water, he said.

“You are removing vegetation, maybe removing some of the impacted soil and sediment that is collected.”

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The initial cleanup phase spanned 627 kilometres of shoreline and an additional 90 kilometres have been surveyed and investigated, of which Kotyk said 6.5 km had sporadic, lingering impacts left by newly settled or previously undetected material.

The incident is the largest spill to a Saskatchewan river in history.

READ MORE: Pipelines crossing Saskatchewan lakes and rivers to be inspected

At North Battleford’s water treatment plant, crews have sampled sediment carried in the water to the plant.

“This is the only place where we’ve actually detected a significant number of petroleum hydrocarbon compounds,” said Sam Ferris, executive director of the Environmental and Municipal Management Services Division of the Water Security Agency.

A report prepared by Acuren Group Inc. for Husky determined slope failure in the ground caused the pipeline to buckle and fail.

READ MORE: Environment groups wait for charges in year-old Saskatchewan oil spill

Husky has claimed full responsibility for the ruptured pipeline, paying out $107 million in associated costs.

The Ministry of Economy has authorized Husky to begin repairs on the leaked line, though the company hasn’t received approval to start operations following completion.

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The redesigned pipeline includes the following additional measures to prevent pipeline failure:

  • thicker pipe on the sloped portion of the pipeline;
  • equipment to monitor ground movement;
  • instruments to monitor ground water levels;
  • two fiber optic systems to monitor strain on the pipe;
  • re-configured pipeline bend to better distribute pipe strain;
  • strain gauges along the replacement sections of the pipe;
  • surface water control measures along the bank including diversion berms and trench breakers.

The Ministry of Justice continues to review Husky’s response to alarms the day prior to the leak. Possible charges under two pieces of legislation could total more than $1 million per day.

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