Sask. government rejects privacy commissioner's recommendation to release Husky pipeline records

The Saskatchewan government has denied a request from the provincial privacy commissioner to release records and information about the Husky pipeline inspections.

Province says releasing documents could adversely affect its investigation

A series of booms were deployed this summer, to handle Husky's broken pipeline which leaked more than 200,000 litres of oil diluent into the North Saskatchewan River. The company called the break a "sudden, one-time event" caused in part by heavy rain along the south riverbank. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

The Saskatchewan government has rejected a recommendation from the provincial privacy commissioner to release records and information about Husky Energy pipeline inspections.

In a report focused on the Ministry of the Economy, the Office of the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner says the government should not have withheld records in response to an access to information request.

On July 21, about 200,000 litres of heavy oil mixed with another petroleum product spilled into the North Saskatchewan River from a Husky pipeline near Lloydminster, Sask. 

The cities of Prince Albert, Melfort and North Battleford had to temporarily shut down their drinking water intake from the river and find other means to supply their residents with drinking water.

The opposition NDP's access to information request made on July 25 asked for "all results from on-site tests and inspections of Husky pipelines since 2011."

The Ministry denied the request, saying it was withholding the records under subsections 15(1)(a), (b) and (c) and 17 (1)(a) and (b) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. It later said it was no longer relying on subsections 17 (1)(a) and (b).

The NDP applied to have the privacy commissioner Ronald Kruzeniski review the Ministry's response.

In his subsequent report, released to the opposition on Monday, Kruzensiski wrote that subsection 15(1)(a), (b) and (c) did not apply to the record. Those sections largely pertain to potential impacts on investigations, and the commissioner said releasing the information wouldn't preclude the province from prosecuting Husky, or unduly sway an investigator should a prosecution take place.

He recommended the documents be released.

No records to be released: province

But the provincial government said in a statement on Monday it would not be releasing the records.

It said one of the purposes of its investigation into the Husky oil spill was to examine the company's "integrity management practices."

It said that would include looking into whether the company complies with the applicable standards.

Husky Energy's report said ground movement was responsible for the pipeline rupture. (CBC)

"Previous inspection and audit reports relating to the performance of a pipeline are relevant to this aspect of the investigation," said the response.

"It is important to the integrity of the investigation that information is not released in a manner that may adversely affect the investigation."

In a report released on Nov. 17, Husky said the pipeline ruptured due to ground movement from geotechnical activity.


  • Due to incorrect information in the Privacy Commissioner's draft report, a previous version of this story indicated the NDP filed their request on July 11, 2016.
    Dec 20, 2016 4:03 PM CT