Husky oil cleanup will be bigger, longer than predicted, says Prince Albert mayor

As the City of Prince Albert calls on Husky Energy to improve its response to the oil spill in the North Saskatchewan River, mayor Greg Dionne says he expects the cleanup will be bigger and longer than predicted.

'They really need to work on that relationship,' says Jim Toye, Prince Albert City Manager

City of Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne expects the oil spill in the North Saskatchewan River will take longer to clean up than predicted. (Matthew Garand/CBC)

As the City of Prince Albert calls on Husky Energy to improve its response to the oil spill in the North Saskatchewan River, mayor Greg Dionne says he expects the cleanup will be bigger and longer than predicted. 

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Dionne said the current timeline for cleaning up more than 200,000 litres of Husky oil, which leaked from a pipeline near Maidstone, Sask., last week, was unrealistic. 

"I live in the real world and I do not believe — they claim in two months we should be back to normal," he said. 

"I don't agree with that statement strictly because as of from today, we are 100 days away from our first freeze-up," Dionne said. 

"So I don't know how they are going to clean that many shorelines and get all of that oil out of the water and off the shoreline in that short period of time."

Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne speaks to reporters about the city's response to the oil spill. (Jen Quesnel/CBC)

Water woes

Strict water restrictions have been enforced in Prince Albert, Sask., about 140 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. 

The city, which is under a state of emergency, stopped drawing water from the North Saskatchewan River on Sunday as the oil slick from the Husky Energy pipeline spill approached the city.

It is in the process of building a 30-kilometre waterline from the South Saskatchewan River to feed clean water to its treatment plant. 

A provincial government agency is now providing about 95 litres of water a day to rural residents, whose water supply has been cut off completely. 

A plan to clean the water supply in Prince Albert involves the use of divers. (Ryan Pilon/CBC)

Prevention is key

Dionne said last night his community needs to look for a permanent, long-term solution to protect the city's water supply from future spills.

"I always felt when I got up in the morning and looked at the river that we'd never run out of water or have an issue, but now we do," said Dionne. 

"And so now we have to make, put guidelines and things into place [so] if it happens again, that we are ready."

City manager Jim Toye told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition on Wednesday he had been disappointed by Husky's response to the pipeline leak.

Husky's response

Toye said the company should have sent staff to Prince Albert and set up localized booms to reduce the impact on the city's drinking water. Although Husky has installed booms at other locations, he said there were none near the city. 

According to Toye, the company should have communicated better, saying the city only heard about the pipeline leak through media coverage. 

"They really need to work on that relationship," he said. 

"We reached out to them yesterday to say 'listen, we should have a chat here, this is a serious situation for not just Prince Albert, but everyone downstream from us, and upstream.'"

He said Husky had committed to improving the relationship on a conference call on Tuesday. 

Husky confirmed with CBC it would be talking to Prince Albert officials about working better together.

Brad Wall on the Husky Energy oil spill

6 years ago
Duration 18:28
Saskatchewan premier discusses efforts to stop the spread of oil in the North Saskatchewan River

"We have been in constant contact with officials with the city of Prince Albert throughout this event, including daily conversations with the mayor," said spokesperson Mel Duvall. 

"We will be chatting with them today to determine things we can do to strengthen this co-operation."

Duvall said the placement of booms was being coordinated with guidance from experts, and that it had increased the number of booms it had deployed to nine. 

"We are looking at additional deployments, but it's critical that they be placed in the locations where they can be most effective," he said.