Sask. must do more to monitor pipelines, says auditor

Nearly a year after a pipeline spilled oil into the North Saskatchewan River, the province's auditor says the government still has work to do when it comes to regulating pipelines.

Latest report finds province has adopted 2 of 5 recommendations from 2012

A series of booms were deployed in the summer of 2016 to deal with Husky Energy's broken pipeline, which leaked more than 200,000 litres of oil diluent into the North Saskatchewan River. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Nearly a year after a Husky Energy pipeline spilled 225,000 litres into and around the North Saskatchewan River, the province's auditor says the government still has work to do when it comes to regulating pipelines. 

Judy Ferguson released her latest report on Tuesday. In it, she noted the government has implemented just two of the remaining five recommendations from a 2012 report.

The Opposition's Cathy Sproule said the government has not moved quickly enough on the auditor's recommendations.

In a written statement, she said the government's "failure to implement key safety recommendations, along with their practice of allowing oil companies to regulate themselves, is doing nothing to prevent spills from occurring."

Saskatchewan's auditor, Judy Ferguson, says the government needs to do more to ensure pipeline operators are in compliance with the rules. (Stefani Langenegger/CBC)

Ferguson said effective regulation of pipelines can prevent leaks, explosions and other hazards.

"Pipeline leaks can contaminate land and water, having a serious impact on residents and wildlife in the area," the auditor said in a news release.

She said the government does not have written policies and procedures to evaluate the province's existing pipelines.

The government should be "strategically and deliberately going out and having a look and making sure that operators are doing what they're saying that they're doing and that they're doing it properly," she added.

Government has made 'substantial progress'

Doug MacKnight, assistant deputy minister in the petroleum and natural gas division of the Ministry of the Economy, said, "We have made substantial progress over the last number of years in implementing the recommendations made in the 2012 report."

However, he acknowledged there is more to do. 

"Like other pipeline regulators, we are working to develop a risk-based system to regulate pipelines."

The two recommendations the government did adopt in the wake of the spill were to license some 80,000 flowlines in the province as well as to ensure the province has the legal authority to require cleanup after a spill.