Husky pipe leaks water used in oil production into river near Turtleford, Sask.

Testing for potential hydrocarbon contamination is taking place near Turtleford after a saline waterline leak was discovered on Wednesday.

Crews testing to see if river contaminated by hydrocarbons

Husky says an unknown amount of treated water spilled into the Englishman River Wednesday morning.

Husky Energy says treated salt water associated with its oil production near Turtleford, Sask., spilled into the nearby Englishman River Wednesday morning. 

The leak was discovered at around 10 a.m. CST by an on-site operator, according to Husky. Crews were on-site Thursday testing to see if the river has been contaminated by hydrocarbons.

The leaking line is used to transport saline water brought to surface during the production of oil, said Mel Duvall, Husky's senior media and issues manager. The line runs between a water handling facility and a disposal well west of Turtleford.

The treated water was on its way to being disposed of before the leak, which happened about 500 metres west of the Englishman River.

Husky said it's not yet known how much water leaked.

"The release has been isolated, preventative measures are in place and removal is underway," Duvall said.

Grant Ferguson, an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan's College of Engineering, said the early information released by Husky does not suggest an oil spill like the one that happened near Maidstone, Sask., in 2016.

Water pushed out during oil production in that region is very salty, said Ferguson.

"If it's a full-on leak, maybe [it's] a hundred litres of salt water, [but] those rivers are moving a few hundred litres a minute, so that's probably all going to get flushed away," said Ferguson.

"In the larger watershed, I suspect it's not going to be a problem."

Duvall said Husky notified provincial regulators about the spill within an hour of detecting it.

"Later that afternoon, we reached out to a variety of stakeholders in the area including nearby landowners, the Town of Turtleford, area RMs and nearby First Nations. This is standard procedure for us with these types of events," said Duvall.

The leak comes two years after a Husky pipeline near Maidstone, Sask. leaked about 225,000 litres of oil, about 40 per cent of which leaked into the North Saskatchewan River. 

Turtleford, which has a population just under 500 people, is located 207 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.