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Pipeline Pathology As Saskatchewan River Runs Black

Wall and Notley respond to oil spill with defence of pipelines

by Daniel Johnson

North Saskatchewan River. Photo: Aaron
North Saskatchewan River. Photo: Aaron
Oil sludge on the river, photo by Shelley Essaunce in Prince Albert
Oil sludge on the river, photo by Shelley Essaunce in Prince Albert

 UPDATE: An emergency rally demanding accountability for preventing pipeline spills is being organized for Saturday, July 30th at the Saskatchewan Legislature in Regina:

A petition has been started on Change.Org on the same topic:

The oil sludge from the leak has reached Prince Albert, a state of emergency has been declared there. Video of sludge on the river:


While communities in southern Saskatchewan were still recovering  from extreme flooding due to climate change last week, a fresh disaster broke out in the north.

On Thursday, July 21, a Husky Energy oil pipeline burst, releasing around 250,000 liters of oil down the North Saskatchewan river. Husky's immediate response was to lower a boom over the water to scrape the oil off the surface, but this has failed. Communities along the river are preparing for the worst.

North Battleford, a neighbouring town in Saskatchewan, shut off its water intake after filling resevoirs and the town water tower to capacity ahead of the flow, Prince Albert, SK, is doing the same while urging residents to fill bathtubs and bottles in case of a long term shortage. 

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall responded to the crisis immediately, and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley quickly offered her help. 

However, the content of the responses show us something about what gets prioritized.  

For example, Brad Wall did not offer emergency crews to supplement Husky's efforts, nor did he announce efforts to determine the cause and prevent this from happening again.

Instead, the Saskatchewan Premier's response was to say that pipelines are still safer than rail, and to talk about how important pipelines are to the economy. Rachel Notley echoed the same sentiments. 

Husky responded with an apology to shareholders for the potential disruption in profits, with optimistic reassurances that the company still had a 'rock solid balance sheet'. Husky added it was rapidly recovering from the losses caused by the Fort McMurray fires earlier this year. 

With floods and fires on the rise, and oil flowing down the rivers, our leaders can still assure us that the economy is going strong. 

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Topics: Environment

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Daniel Johnson (Daniel Johnson)
Regina Sask
Member since August 2013


354 words


So they gave up?

From this article, it sounds like the governments simply threw up their hands and said "oh well" after the company's half hearted attempt to contain the spill. 

Is there truly nothing more that can be done?  Is no one outraged and doing something about it?  Or is the oil now so diluted that it is pointless...