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60,000 litres of wastewater diverted after refinery oil spill: Water Security Agency

A May 22nd oil spill at the Co-op Refinery Complex in Regina has come under scrutiny after neither the refinery nor the city of Regina notified the public at the time.
A May 22nd oil spill at the Co-op Refinery Complex in Regina has come under scrutiny after neither the refinery nor the city of Regina notified the public at the time. File Photo / Global News

The Water Security Agency (WSA) is shedding a bit of light on the size of and the immediate response to a recent oil spill at the Co-op Refinery Complex.

On May 22, a spill from a refinery storage pond, attributed by CRC officials to wind, caused a substance containing oil to leak into the City of Regina’s sewage system.

The WSA confirmed to Global News on Thursday that Regina wastewater treatment plant operators visually identified oil in incoming wastewater. At that point, about 60,000 litres of incoming wastewater were diverted to a lagoon cell for special treatment.

Exactly how much oil was in that wastewater, however, is still being determined.

Read more: Oil spill leaks into Regina sewer system, city and Co-op Refinery don’t alert public: union

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“The refinery normally does send a treated oil product through there. They have a very substantial system that cleans this and brings it through, so something happened there that changed some of those products,” said WSA spokesperson Patrick Boyle. “So that’s part of the investigation. We’re trying to figure out how much, and when.”

Boyle said that none of what was spilled has been determined to have escaped the sewage system into the environment.

While the plant is owned and operated by the city of Regina, the WSA oversees and regulates the treatment of wastewater in Saskatchewan.

Read more: Co-op refinery workers in Regina back to work after two sides agree to new deal

Neither the City of Regina or the Co-op Refinery Complex issued a public notice to alert residents or media of the spill.

Despite confirming the spill to have happened on May 22, refinery spokesperson Brad DeLorey told Global News on May 30 that the CRC didn’t notify the public because it did not pose a threat to the public or residents.

At the time, that decision was criticized by outgoing Unifor 594 President Kevin Bittman.

“The alarming fact that it was the City of Regina that discovered the spill, and was not reported by the Co-op Refinery, should concern almost everyone,” said Bittman told Global News on May 30.

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