Canada oil pipeline spills 200,000 litres on aboriginal land
Government says 170,000 litres recovered after second major incident in Saskatchewan
Craig Paradis of Advance Drilling, operates the brake handle on a drilling rig for Crescent Point Energy as two roughnecks add a pipe extension to drill deeper into the Bakken formation near Oungre, Saskatchewan in 2012. File photograph: Reuters/Rod Nickel/Files
A pipeline in the western Canadian province of Saskatchewan has leaked 200,000 litres (52,834 gallons) of oil in an aboriginal community, the provincial government said on Monday.
The government was notified late in the afternoon on Friday, and 170,000 litres have since been recovered, said Doug McKnight, assistant deputy minister in the ministry of the economy, which regulates pipelines in Saskatchewan.
Oil pipelines are viewed by the oil-rich provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan as a critical lifeline to move crude to the coast, but they have drawn fierce opposition from environmental and indigenous groups.
The spill came seven months after another major incident in Saskatchewan, in which a Husky Energy Inc pipeline leaked 225,000 litres into a major river and cut off the drinking water supply for two cities.
It was not immediately clear how the current incident happened or which company owns the underground pipeline that leaked the oil.
Mr McKnight said Tundra Energy Marketing Inc, which has a line adjacent to the spill, is leading cleanup efforts.
“There are a number of pipes in the area,” he told reporters in Regina. “Until we excavate it, we won’t know with 100 per cent certainty which pipe.”
Tundra, a privately held unit of Canadian grain trading and energy conglomerate James Richardson and Sons Ltd, released a statement saying it is co-operating with all levels of government and will ensure “the affected land is restored appropriately”.
The incident happened in the lands of the Ocean Man First Nation 140km (87 miles) southeast of the provincial capital of Regina, according to the province.
Mr McKnight said the spill has been contained in the low-lying area in which it was discovered. Ocean Man Chief Connie Big Eagle said the spill was 15m (50ft) in diameter on Friday.
Ocean Man has 540 residents, one-third of whom live on the reserve, Ms Big Eagle said.
She said an area resident who had smelled the scent of oil for a week located the spill and alerted her on Friday. The chief said there are no homes near the spill but it is about 400m (1,320ft) from the local cemetery.
“We have got to make sure that Tundra has done everything that they can to get our land back to the way it was. That can take years,” she said. “They have assured me that they follow up and they don’t leave . . . until we are satisfied.”