Sask. Environmental Society demands fines against Husky for oil spill

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society wants the provincial government to fine Husky Energy for the damage caused by its July 21 oil spill.

SES says independent inquiry necessary

Crews work to clean up an oil spill on the North Saskatchewan river near Maidstone, Sask., on Friday July 22, 2016. Husky Energy said between 200,000 and 250,000 litres of crude oil and other material leaked into the river from its pipeline. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES) is demanding the provincial government levy significant fines against Husky Energy for the July 21 oil spill near North Battleford.

"It should be more than a slap on the wrist. It should be substantial," SES board member Peter Prebble said during a news conference Monday.

Prebble said it's clear Husky violated the provincial act regulating pipeline safety. The maximum fines are $1 million per day. The SES isn't suggesting a specific amount, but it must send a message to both the public and to industry, Prebble said.

Prebble and SES President Bert Weichel also called for an independent inquiry into the spill.

The SES laid out these and other recommendations Monday. They lauded the recent improvements to pipeline regulations, but said it's not nearly enough.

"We feel much more needs to be done," Weichel said.

Other suggestions include rules mandating all new pipelines are constructed with thicker walls. There must also be better lines of communication established before a spill occurs. 

Last week, Energy and Resources Minister Dustin Duncan introduced new legislation dealing with moving oil by pipeline. The province will be licensing more than 80,000 flowlines across the province, which have been exempt until now. The province will also give ministry officials new powers to inspect and investigate pipeline spills.

Saskatchewan expands pipeline inspections in wake of Husky oil spill

The SES would like to see stronger emergency response protocols. It said this summer's Husky spill, which dumped as much as 250,000 litres of oil into the North Saskatchewan River, showed the province was unprepared.

Weichel said that for at least the first three days following the spill, there were an inadequate number of containment booms and other necessary equipment on the river to capture the oil rapidly.

The SES also asked that any pipelines that cross water bodies be equipped with updated spill detection technology and automatic shut-off valves that respond to drops in pressure.