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Saskatchewan First Nation ‘concerned’ over lack of communication after oil spill

Kawacatoose First Nation Chief Tom Dustyhorn said the oil spill near Guernsey is concerning for both him and his band members. File / Global News

A First Nation in Saskatchewan is wondering why it has not been contacted after an oil spill on what it calls its traditional territory.

A Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) train that originated in Rosyth, Alta., derailed near Guernsey on Dec. 9. It was destined for Oklahoma.

A preliminary examination by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said 19 of the 34 cars that derailed lost its entire load, releasing an estimated 1.5 million litres of crude oil into the ground and atmosphere.

READ MORE: Different factors to consider in oil spill clean up - U of S professor

The spill became engulfed in flames, which burned for approximately 24 hours.

Tom Dustyhorn, chief of the Kawacatoose First Nation, said the spill is concerning for both he and his band members.

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“I’m not only concerned about the environment and the oil spill’s impacts to wildlife and plants, I’m more concerned about the underground water and how that may impact our First Nation,” Dustyhorn said in a release.

READ MORE: 1.5 million litres of crude oil spilled in Saskatchewan CP Rail train derailment

Also of concern for Dustyhorn is what he says is the response — or lack thereof — from CP and the federal government.

“It’s been a week and neither the federal government nor CP Rail have reached out to the Kawacatoose First Nation, despite the fact that some of our treaty sustenance hunters have always hunted in this area,” he said.

Dustyhorn said CP has reached out to local communities, but not his First Nation.

“First Nations are always left out, and this is no different. Our leadership wants information on how this may impact our members’ rights,” Dustyhorn said.

“Where is the federal government in all this given the severity of this disaster?”

Click to play video: 'Derailed CP train in Saskatchewan erupts in flames' Derailed CP train in Saskatchewan erupts in flames
Derailed CP train in Saskatchewan erupts in flames – Dec 9, 2019

The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency said roughly five to 10 acres of land was impacted by the spill.

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Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Environment said no waterways appeared to be affected.

Kawacatoose First Nation is located near Raymore, roughly 200 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon.

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