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North Battleford shuts down water intake as spill heads downstream

The City of North Battleford has been forced to shut down its water intake in the North Saskatchewan River.

The shutdown is due to oil headed downstream from a spill near Maidstone, which took place on Thursday morning. According to Susanne Abe, the Communications Coordinator for North Battleford, the intake was shut down following word from Husky Energy that the oil was headed downstream.

“They contained most of it, and they set up booms at Paynton, and we were informed that it could be possible that if they didn’t catch everything by Paynton that it might eventually reach the City of North Battleford,” said Abe.

“Late this morning, we received information that this would be the case, and immediately shut down the plant.”

Abe said that the oil is expected to pass by the city within the next few hours, and Husky had sent workers down to the river intake site to protect the infrastructure. The company previously said around 200,000 to 250,000 litres of oil and other material had leaked into the river on Thursday from the ruptured pipeline.

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“Right now, we have Husky Energy here,” said Abe.

“They’re putting up a berm around our water intake structure, so that when the water comes down it doesn’t leak to our water intake structure.”

Abe said the city will continue to be supplied with a groundwater source, to supply residents with their regular water usage. She also said the intake shutdown is expected to last over the weekend, but did not have a firm timeline.

Responses from other government agencies to the spill have also been reported on. Wes Koytyk, the Executive Director of Environmental Protection with the Saskatchewan government, said the spill is equal to two rail cars, and of a higher magnitude than the province is used to. He also said it was rare to have an oil spill of this magnitude in Saskatchewan, and that fish and wildlife staff were drawing up plans in case wildlife were affected by the spill.

As for the spill itself, it had been indicated by Ralph Bock, the Manager of Hazardous Materials for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, that the spill site had been contained. Patches of oil were also observed on the river by 106.1 The Goat this afternoon, flowing downstream by the bridge crossing north of Maidstone.

When asked about the source of this oil, Husky spokesperson Mel Duvall provided the following statement.

“Our response and monitoring efforts are continuing, with berms remaining in place at site and recovery underway. Containment booms have been deployed on the river near the Paynton ferry crossing. Through our ongoing surveillance, a sheen was observed further downstream and additional containment booms are being deployed. No water advisories have been issued. A water monitoring and sample testing program is in place and we will continue to work closely with downstream communities, neighbours, and the appropriate government and regulatory authorities. Our main focus continues to be the safety of the public and the protection of the environment. A thorough investigation will be undertaken.”

Duvall also re-iterated that the spill site had been fully contained, and said the oil flowing by the bridge today was from yesterday’s spill.

A clear cause for the incident has not yet been determined. Photographs from the Paynton Ferry crossing can be seen below.

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