FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The town of Melfort is the latest Saskatchewan community moving to take measures against last week’s pipeline oil spill in north/central part of that province, near the Alberta border.
The water pipeline network that serves the community southeast of Prince Albert, stopped its intake yesterday from a reservoir near the North Saskatchewan River as the oil sheen made its way downstream.
Latest reports now suggest the spill occurred last Wednesday, not Thursday, and Husky Energy says there will be an investigation as to why it took 14 hours to inform the Saskatchewan government.
Both Prince Albert and North Battleford, the closest down river city to the spill site—have also taken drastic steps to conserve water, and have closed their river water intakes.
The spill near Maidstone, southeast of the border community of Lloydminster, is said to have involved up to 250-thousand litres of heavy crude.
Prince Albert, with a population of roughly 35 thousand and the third largest city in the province, has set up an emergency 30 kilometre waterline to the South Saskatchewan River, which merges with the North Saskatchewan east of the city.
The South Saskatchewan is said to be a clean, viable and safe potable drinking water source, while the North Saskatchewan is expected to be dealing with lingering hydrocarbons and contaminants for up to two months.
If all goes as planned, 18 pumps will be used, to keep the water flowing, but given the high risk of operational problems, the city is also exploring backup emergency supply plans, from private and city owned retention ponds in the area.
The city has been forced to use its reserve water supply, and impose strict water conservation measures under the threat of fines for those who ignore them.
The Mayor says he’s been assured by the CEO of Husky that the company will cover all costs incurred by the city because of the spill.
A Husky official has been quoted as saying, the cause is still unknown and it could take weeks and/or months for the investigation to be completed.