Husky Energy faces 10 charges in 2016 oil spill into Saskatchewan river

Husky Energy is facing a total of ten charges in relation to a 2016 oil spill in Saskatchewan.

Oil producer could be subject to maximum fine of $1M

Shoreline cleanup for the Maidstone-area oilspill continues to this day. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Husky Energy is now facing a total of ten charges in relation to a 2016 oil spill in Saskatchewan.

The July 2016 Maidstone-area spill saw 225,000 litres of oil leak from a damaged pipeline, around 40 per cent of which made its way to the North Saskatchewan River.

On Monday, the province confirmed one charge is being laid under the provincial Environmental Management and Protection Act (EMPA). Saskatchewan's Ministry of Environment has repeatedly stated that the decision to lay charges would come from Crown prosecutors, not the province.

Environment and Climate Change Canada later said it laid nine charges against Husky on March 22, eight under the federal Fisheries Act and one under the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act.

The 10 total charges result from a 19-month joint federal-provincial investigation.

The charges allege that Husky did "unlawfully permit the discharge of a substance to the environment that caused an adverse effect," according to the premier's office.

According to the Premier of Saskatchewan's office, the company faces a possible maximum $1 million fine.

'Very unsettling situation'

Saskatchewan Minister of Environment Dustin Duncan said the spill led to significant changes in the provincial Pipelines Act; changes that include greater regulation, auditing powers, penalty provisions and licensing flowlines.

"We take this very seriously. There, to my knowledge, hasn't been a charge with respect to the unintended release of oil from a pipeline in the province's history," he told reporters on Monday. 

Duncan said the site cleanup was completed by the end of last year, but Husky will have to work with the province's Water Security Agency and the Ministry of Environment to make sure nothing else is required.

He said he expects full co-operation.

"In the last year, despite a very unsettling situation, Husky was very responsive when it came to the cleanup but also responding to the concerns by First Nations, by communities along the river, as well as to the requests that were made by the government department," Duncan said.

Husky in court this week

In response to an emailed request for comment from CBC, Husky Energy declined an interview, saying it will take time to fully review charges before responding.

"Fundamentally, we accept full responsibility for the incident, as we have from the beginning. We deeply regret this happened and we are sorry for the impact it had.  We have worked hard every day since to make things right and we have learned from it," wrote Mel Duvall, media and issues manager with Husky.

Husky is scheduled to appear in provincial court in Lloydminster on Thursday, both for the EMPA charge and a number of federal charges, the province said in its statement.

The province said it will not be releasing its report investigating the spill until the appeal process for the court matters has passed.

In Duvall's email, he thanked the government, Indigenous people, and communities in the region "for their support and understanding throughout."