Husky oil spill: Prince Albert delivering water from new source to residents
Temporary lines to provide water from new sources after Husky oil spill into North Saskatchewan River
Officials in Prince Albert, Sask., say a new water source has passed lab tests and has been added to their distribution system, providing a measure of relief to a city that has been scrambling to secure water following a spill of oil into the North Saskatchewan River.
In a statement Sunday, around 5 p.m. CST, officials said treated water from an improvised line to the Little Red River was tested and added to the city's reservoir system and — from there — sent to homes and businesses on the local distribution system.
"The water is potable, safe water," the statement noted.
For several days crews have been working on two temporary lines leading to water sources north and south of the city.
The Little Red River line was the first of the two to be operational, and pumping water.
The line, an eight-kilometre stretch, will be used to supply water while a longer line, roughly 30 kilometres to the South Saskatchewan River, is completed.
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Prince Albert, which has been on a local state of emergency for almost a week, stopped using water from the North Saskatchewan River following a spill of oil from a Husky Energy pipeline that led to some 200,000 to 250,000 litres of heavy oil (mixed with another product called a diluent) entering the river Maidstone, Sask. An investigation is underway to determine why the pipeline ruptured.
The city said Sunday afternoon that work was continuing to fill the longer line, which has pumping machines every two kilometres along the stretch.
Traffic a problem
Officials note that workers on that line had to contend with damage, which they attributed to motorists driving too fast over protective ramps.
Duane McKay, Saskatchewan's commissioner of emergency management, explained that the line crosses a highway in several places and the ramps protect the line and allow traffic to continue.
He said it appears a driver on Highway 302 may have failed to obey the speed limit at one of the crossings Saturday and damaged the line. The line was not filled with any water and the damage to the section was repaired.
Work on the line was also slowed Friday night, due to heavy long weekend traffic that made conditions unsafe for workers.
Provincial officials noted Sunday that four communities and rural municipalities were still under local states of emergency:
- The City of Prince Albert.
- The RM of Prince Albert.
- The RM of Buckland.
- The Muskoday First Nation.
Prince Albert extended its emergency status for another seven days.
The province also provided an update on cleanup operations, noting that some 38 kilometres along the river had been assessed and seven kilometres had been cleaned.
Booms remain in place on the water to catch any oil that is dislodged from the shoreline during the cleaning process. Officials noted that the cleanup is still in the preliminary stages and said that a total of 126,000 litres had been recovered.
They added that a concern relating to the spill is that oil may settle on the bottom of the river. Officials said some oil has been detected in the 900 collected samples so far.
Officials said they will have a clearer idea of the scope and scale of the environmental impact on Monday.
They added that, as of Sunday, there were 42 cases of wildlife that died, linked to the spill.
With files from The Canadian Press