Saskatchewan

Husky oil spill: Pipelines close to rivers a bad idea, scientist says

One of Canada's top environmental scientists who specializes in the oil patch says the Husky oil spill should be a wake-up call for the provincial government.

240K leak should give Premier Brad Wall something to think about, ecologist David Schindler says

Former University of Alberta ecology professor David Schindler has much to say about Saskatchewan's big oil leak.

One of Canada's top environmental scientists who specializes in the oil patch says the Husky oil spill should be a wake-up call for the provincial government.

"Maybe instead of increasing pipelines all over the place, we ought to be putting more effort into getting at our stationary needs for power onto other types of power sources and fossil fuels," said David Schindler, a former professor of ecology at the University of Alberta.

Last week, some 250,000 litres of oil and other chemicals ended up in the North Saskatchewan River after a leak at Husky's Lloydminster-area pipeline network.

This should give Premier Brad Wall, a strong proponent of pipelines, reason for pause, he told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition.

Advice for the provincial government

"My advice to the premier would be to have second thoughts. If this is the only strategy to fill the coffers of Saskatchewan, at least try and route the pipelines so they're minimizing the areas where rivers are crossed and parallel to rivers right near the banks."

The material that leaked into the North Saskatchewan River near Maidstone, Sask. a week ago was a mixture of heavy oil and other hydrocarbons.

Schindler said the contaminants could stay in the water for several months, or even years.

My advice to the premier would be to have second thoughts.- David Schindler

"Certainly, there will be little tarballs floating to the surface here and there and little oil slicks for years to come," he said. 

He added that the 250,000 litres that went into the river was a relatively small spill.

As well, it's lucky that the leak didn't take place during the winter, he said.

"One [thing] that's never mentioned, is what happens if we have a spill under ice. That river is under ice for five months of the year. As far as I know, we don't even know how to get at a spill under ice let alone remove it."

now