Husky gets OK to restart pipe­line af­ter spill

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CITY + REGION - ALEX MACPHER­SON amacpher­son@post­media.com twit­ter.com/macpher­sona

The Saskatchewan govern­ment has given Husky En­ergy per­mis­sion to restart a 16-inch pipe­line that was shut down af­ter 225,000 litres of heavy crude spilled near and into the North Saskatchewan River last sum­mer.

Govern­ment pros­e­cu­tors, mean­while, are still look­ing into whether the Cal­gary-based com­pany should face en­vi­ron­men­tal charges, which could re­sult in mil­lions of dol­lars in fines, for the July 20, 2016, in­ci­dent.

“Sig­nif­i­cant test­ing, in­spec­tion and eval­u­a­tion of the re­pairs to this line have been un­der­taken,” govern­ment spokes­woman Kathy Young said in an email, one day af­ter the Min­istry of the Econ­omy — which reg­u­lates most pipe­lines in the prov­ince — au­tho­rized the restart.

“Husky’s in­tegrity man­age­ment pro­gram has been up­dated to in­clude all geotech­ni­cal haz­ards and all man­age­ment pro­grams have been up­dated and im­ple­mented.”

The spill, which forced down­stream com­mu­ni­ties to close their water treat­ment plants’ river in­takes, has been at­trib­uted to an “ac­tive land­slide” caus­ing the pipe­line to buckle and leak oil for hours be­fore it was shut down.

Husky pres­i­dent and CEO Rob Pe­abody said this sum­mer that leak de­tec­tion sys­tems in place on the pipe­line did not fail, but “there wasn’t an un­am­bigu­ous mes­sage com­ing from the sys­tems.”

Young, in the email, said the cross­ing has been up­graded to in­clude thicker pipe, in­cli­nome­ters to mea­sure ground move­ment, “state-of-the-art fiber op­tic” leak de­tec­tion sys­tems and a re­con­fig­u­ra­tion of the pipe­line.

The pipe­line has also un­der­gone 10 suc­cess­ful pres­sure tests over­seen by the pro­vin­cial reg­u­la­tor and a third-party en­gi­neer­ing firm, Young said in the email, adding that Husky must sub­mit data on the pipe­line weekly and in­spect it ev­ery six months.

“All work on the line has been ver­i­fied by the pro­vin­cial reg­u­la­tor and a third-party en­gi­neer­ing firm.”

Husky said in Fe­bru­ary that the to­tal cost of clean­ing up the spill is $107 mil­lion.

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