NDP blasts Sask. Party over pipeline leaks

Saskatchewan’s Opposition NDP is calling for more government oversight of pipelines after learning of another spill in the province this week.

Proper assessments, inspections, and accountability needed: NDP

Trent Wotherspoon, interim NDP leader, is demanding more government oversight of pipelines in Saskatchewan. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Saskatchewan's Opposition NDP is calling for more government oversight of pipelines after learning of another spill in the province this week.

On Tuesday, 630 barrels of mixed oil and water spilled in farmer's field northwest of Swift Current, Sask.

The Crescent Point pipeline leak happened in an area where it could be easily contained. The government said the spill did not come near water that has fish or is used for drinking, and there is no risk to wildlife.

Holding companies responsible for the cleanup is not enough.- Trent Wotherspoon, NDP

Still, the NDP believes both this latest spill, and the Husky Energy spill into the North Saskatchewan River late last month point to some real problems with pipeline regulation in this province.

"It's troubling that, once again, the people of Saskatchewan heard about this leak because of the media and not the government," said interim NDP leader Trent Wotherspoon.

"It is clear that we need we need proper environmental assessments, inspections, and accountability. Instead, the Sask. Party ignored critical recommendations from the auditor and made cuts to the branch responsible for inspections," he added.

Government defends record 

The Ministry of the Economy said it takes the auditor's report seriously, and is working to make its pipeline regulations stronger.

"We pay very serious attention to any advice we receive from the auditor and do our best to attend to it expeditiously," said Deputy Minister Laurie Pushor. "In addition to that, we work very closely with our team, but so too with regulators across western Canada and in fact across the country."

Pushor said the ministry has made important changes in the last several years. For example, oversight of pipeline inspections has been moved out of the Ministry of the Economy's petroleum and natural gas division, to "give a clear focus on oversight." As well, he says an electronic database has made it much easier to track where spills are happening, and which companies are responsible.

"Holding companies responsible for the cleanup is not enough and letting them police themselves is clearly not working. Once the oil leaks, there is no magic wand to make it all go away," said Wotherspoon.

The auditor's office will be issuing a review on pipeline regulation this fall.

with files from David Shield


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