Ocean Man First Nation Chief hopes province will ensure proper cleanup of oil spill

The chief of the Ocean Man First Nation says she hopes the provincial government will hold the operator of the pipeline, which spilled approximately 200,000 litres of oil onto reserve land, accountable.

'It could happen anywhere,' Ocean Man Chief Connie Big Eagle says after last week's oil spill

Ocean Man First Nation Chief Connie Big Eagle says the provincial government should hold the company responsible for operating the leaky pipeline accountable for cleanup. (SRC)

The chief of the Ocean Man First Nation says the provincial government should ensure the company responsible for last week's oil spill is held accountable for proper cleanup.

"They should be doing their job to make sure that the company [responsible] does their job and deals with any after-effects to our community," Chief Connie Big Eagle said, noting the province is the governing body which determines regulations and inspections.

In November, the province announced it was stepping up efforts to oversee pipeline inspections in the aftermath of last July's Husky oil spill in the North Saskatchewan River.

Approximately 200,000 litres of oil spilled last week on Ocean Man land, covering about a 20-metre radius. As of Monday, 170,000 litres had been cleaned up by Calgary-based Tundra Energy Marketing.

Ocean Man is located approximately 140 kilometres southeast of Regina.

The chief has said the main concern for Ocean Man is the community, the land and the environment. 

"My initial feeling was sadness," she said. "It's affecting the land."

Right now, she said everyone involved is doing what they're supposed to in regard to cleaning efforts, and that everything that could be done was being done.

Tundra Energy Marketing Limited is currently leading the cleanup efforts at the site of the spill. The company operates a pipeline adjacent to the site. It has not yet been confirmed if Tundra operates the pipeline responsible for the spill.

The Ocean Man chief said the first thing she did was notify the company when she found out about the spill.

At least three companies operate pipelines in the area. Some of the pipelines are decades old, she said, estimating they were installed in 1965 or 1969.

Though the source hasn't been confirmed, Big Eagle said she is confident the leaking line is operated by Tundra.

Tundra Energy Marketing Limited spokesperson Jeff Yanko said the source of the leak should be determined by Wednesday. (CBC News)

Jeff Yanko, public affairs spokesman for Tundra, said the source of contamination will be determined once the site has been excavated. He estimates the source will be known by Wednesday. 

The contamination was contained to a slough with a diameter of about 50 feet, or approximately 15 metres, he said.

Yanko said the company is working with provincial and federal regulators as well as environmental groups to determine if there is any risk to drinking water.

He said there was no potential harm to nearby communities the company knew of as of Tuesday. Tundra has been on site since Friday, within hours of being notified, Yanko said.

The chief said she hopes whichever company operates the pipeline responsible will be around to deal with any residual effects on the community.

"It could happen anywhere. Sadly, it happened on Ocean Man First Nation."

With files from SRC and Stephanie Skenderis