Husky fined for 2016 pipeline leak into North Saskatchewan River

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North Saskatchewan River Water Quality Map
The oil leak was found to be harmful to fish and migratory birds, and the incident forced the cities of North Battleford, Prince Albert and Melfort to shut off their water intakes for almost two months. Photo Credit: Husky Energy.

Husky Oil Operations Ltd. has been ordered to pay a $3.8-million fine as the result of a blended heavy crude oil pipeline leak into the North Saskatchewan River in 2016.

The Calgary-based company pled guilty on June 12 to one count of violating the Fisheries Act and one count of violating the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, in response to the 225,000-litre leak. Approximately 90,000 litres from the leak entered the North Saskatchewan River near Maidstone, Saskatchewan.

“Once the leak was discovered, Husky acted quickly and properly,” said Provincial Court Judge Lorna Dyck in her decision. “I believe Husky has learned from this mistake.”

Husky officials have gone on record to state that the company spent more than $140 million on cleanup efforts for the spill.

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“From the outset of this event, we accepted full responsibility for the spill and we restated that today,” said Husky CEO Rob Peabody in a statement to media. “We recognize this event had significant impacts on the cities, towns and Indigenous communities along the river. We appreciate the way they worked with us on the cleanup and their patience and understanding in the months following the spill,” added Peabody.

The oil leak was found to be harmful to fish and migratory birds, and the incident forced the cities of North Battleford, Prince Albert and Melfort to shut off their water intakes for almost two months.

Husky attributed the pipeline leak to “ground movement over time,” which led to increased pressure.

In addition to the $2.7-million in fines under the federal Acts, the Saskatchewan Crown prosecutor asked for a total amount of $1.12 million, which would include a $800,000 fine plus a $320,000 victim surcharge.

Lastly, Husky pled guilty to one count under the provincial Environmental Management and Protection Act, 2010. 

Husky was involved with an oil spill last November in Newfoundland that was believed to be one of the largest in the province’s history. The company was the only producer that attempted to restart production during a massive storm.

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