Husky gets OK from Saskatchewan to restart pipe­line af­ter ma­jor spill

Com­pany’s new safety mea­sures in­clude thicker pipe on slopes, strain sen­sors

Calgary Herald - - CITY - JEN­NIFER GRAHAM

The Saskatchewan gov­ern­ment has given Husky En­ergy the OK to restart a pipe­line af­ter a ma­jor oil spill along the North Saskatchewan River that fouled the wa­ter source for three cities.

The gov­ern­ment said in an email to me­dia on Thurs­day that test­ing, in­spec­tion and eval­u­a­tion of the re­pairs to the line have been done.

In July 2016, the pipe­line leaked 225,000 litres of heavy oil mixed with dilu­ent onto a river­bank near Maid­stone, Sask.

About 40 per cent of the spill reached the river.

The oil plume flowed hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres down­stream and forced the cities of North Bat­tle­ford, Prince Al­bert and Melfort to shut off their wa­ter in­takes for al­most two months.

Husky’s own in­ves­ti­ga­tion de­ter­mined that the pipe­line buck­led be­cause of ground move­ment. The com­pany has said it ac­cepts full re­spon­si­bil­ity and is us­ing what it learned to im­prove op­er­a­tions.

The gov­ern­ment email said mea­sures have been taken to re­duce the risk of a fu­ture fail­ure at the same spot. They in­clude thicker pipe on the sloped por­tion of the pipe­line.

Other steps in­clude adding me­ters to mon­i­tor the rate of ground move­ment, state-of-the art fi­bre op­tics to track pipe­line strain and slope move­ment.

Husky will also have to sub­mit weekly data from gauges mea­sur­ing strain on the pipe­line and sub­mit an en­gi­neer­ing as­sess­ment every 12 months of where the pipe­line crosses the river.

Part of the con­cern in the Husky spill was over how it was re­ported.

The gov­ern­ment was first told by a mem­ber of the pub­lic who spot­ted oil on the river. Gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tors later de­ter­mined that the leak be­gan July 20, the day be­fore the spill was dis­cov­ered.

They found that the pipe­line’s alarms were warn­ing of po­ten­tial prob­lems and con­tin­ued un­til the line was shut down for sched­uled main­te­nance at 7:15 a.m. on July 21.

Husky En­ergy has said pipe­line mon­i­tor­ing in­di­cated pres­sure anom­alies at 8 p.m. on July 20 and the com­pany started a shut­down at 6 a.m.

Saskatchewan’s Jus­tice Min­istry is still re­view­ing Husky’s re­sponse to alarms be­fore the spill to de­cide whether charges should be laid.

Husky could face fines of up to $1 mil­lion a day un­der the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Act and $50,000 a day un­der the Pipe­lines Act in Saskatchewan. There could also be fed­eral charges un­der the Fish­eries Act.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS/JA­SON FRANSON/FILES

A sec­tion of Husky En­ergy’s pipe­line burst in 2016, leak­ing an es­ti­mated 225,000 litres of crude and con­den­sate, of which about 40 per cent reached the North Saskatchewan River. Husky’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion de­ter­mined that ground move­ment caused the leak.

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