Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Environment Groups Wait for Charges in Year-Old Husky Oil Spill in Saskatchewan

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Environment Groups Wait for Charges in Year-Old Husky Oil Spill in Saskatchewan

Article excerpt

Waiting for charges in year-old Husky spill

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REGINA - A year after a major oil spill along the North Saskatchewan River fouled the water source for three Saskatchewan cities, an environmentalist says the company involved should get more than just "a slap on the wrist."

Peter Prebble with the Saskatchewan Environmental Society says he hopes Husky Energy will be held to account after one of its pipelines leaked 225,000 litres of heavy oil mixed with diluent onto the riverbank near Maidstone, Sask. About 40 per cent of the spill reached the river.

The oil plume flowed hundreds of kilometres downstream and forced the cities of North Battleford, Prince Albert and Melfort to shut off their water intakes for almost two months.

Saskatchewan's Ministry of Justice isn't commenting. It is still reviewing Husky's response to alarms before the spill to decide whether charges should be laid.

"If it was just a matter of deciding on a fine, then I would think it wouldn't be all that complicated at this point in time," said Prebble.

"If the department is actually working on a larger settlement that involves upgrades to the safety of the oil pipeline system that Husky operates in the province, then that's something that could take more time," he said.

"If we don't see that, I'll be really concerned because Husky is a big company and the fine could just end up being a slap on the wrist."

Husky (TSX:HSE) could face fines of up to $1 million a day under the Environmental Protection Act and $50,000 a day under the Pipelines Act in Saskatchewan.

There could also be federal charges under the Fisheries Act, said Dale Marshall, national program manager with the group Environmental Defence.

"It remains to be seen whether fines will be levied or not," said Marshall, noting he would be surprised if they weren't.

Marshall said it often takes more than a year for charges. He suggested they should be laid more quickly "in the interest of accountability and to send a clear message to other pipeline operators and oil companies that these matters are taken seriously and will be dealt with quickly. …

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