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10th August 2016
Crews unlikely to recover all the spilled Husky Energy heavy crude: Sask. government


Published on: August 8, 2016 Last Updated: August 8, 2016 1:41 PM CS

Clean-up crews will be fortunate to collect 80 per cent of approximately 250,000 litres of oil spilled from a Husky Energy pipeline near and into the North Saskatchewan River, according to the provincial government.

“It would be an ideal situation even to get something to that level,” Ministry of Environment spokesman Kevin McCullum told reporters Monday on a conference call.

To this point, around 140,000 litres of heavy crude has been recovered. The Ministry of Environment is aiming for “high recovery,” but some lighter hydrocarbons released when the Husky pipeline failed on July 20 will have evaporated while heavier compounds will eventually degrade as it moves downstream, McCullum said. Almost 1,300 barrels of heavy crude was dumped near and into the North Saskatchewan River on July 20.

On August 3, a team of technical experts working on the spill reported that the spilled product was a mix of naturally-occurring oils called HLU Blended LLB Heavy Crude Oil.

The crude, which is used to produce synthetic oil and diesel, tends to float on water before eventually settling and “weathering” - a process during which its more volatile components break down, the experts said in their report.

Although the overall situation is stable, unconfirmed reports of “material” on the river led to the installation of a boom protecting the E.B. Campbell Hydroelectric Station at Tobin Lake, Water Security Agency spokesman Sam Ferris said on the conference call.

Prince Albert and Melfort have reliable secondary water sources in place and appear to be managing, but North Battleford - where crews are working to get a six-inch hose to nearby Battleford operational - remains a source of worry, Ferris said.

“Right now, I’d say that I’m a little more concerned about the potential threats to North Battleford as far as re-establishing the intake, more so than Prince Albert and the Melfort Regional system, simply because it’s closer to the source of the spill.”