Posted: 24 Jan 2017

A pipeline close to Stoughton, about 62 kilometers east of Weyburn in the western Canadian province of Saskatchewan, has leaked 200,000 liters (52,834 gallons) of oil onto agricultural land owned by Ocean Man First Nation, the provincial government said on Monday.

The government was notified late in the afternoon on Friday, and 170,000 liters have since been recovered, said Doug McKnight, assistant deputy minister in the Ministry of the Economy, which regulates pipelines in Saskatchewan. Authorities said the spill site is in a low-lying area that contains a frozen slough. The spill is, they say, fully contained and oil is not entering any creeks or streams. The cleanup started on Saturday and included the removal of surface oil with vacuum trucks. The province says 170 cubic meters (170,000 liters) has been recovered.

“The excavation I expect to start on Wednesday, to find the damaged pipe,” MacKnight said. “It’s not until we remove the cover and get down (that we will) be able to identify exactly where the source is. We think it’s the general area, but until you remove the cover, you won’t really know 100 percent.”

“There are a number of pipes in the area; we think it’s one in particular, but until the actual source of the spill has been identified, you won’t know 100percent,” MacKnight said.

“The pipeline company is going to continue to work on the clean-up and we’ll be supervising,” he said. “The response is going to be ongoing; if it turns out it’s somebody else’s pipe we’ll deal with it at that time, but the clean-up is still going to proceed.” The province says local air quality and wildlife have not been affected. “Of course there’s a concern; we don’t like oil spills, nobody does. So we’re going to investigate it very thoroughly and find out in fact what’s gone on,” MacKnight said.

“I have requested to be informed as soon as they find out where it’s coming from,” Chief Connie Big Eagle of Ocean Man First Nation. said. “It appears that everyone is doing what they can and what they are supposed to be doing; however, at this point in time, the break has not been located.”

“Because of the shape of the slough it’s kind of like a natural basin, so it’s contained in there,” said Big Eagle “(The) contamination was about 50 feet in diameter.” “It appears to be by an old well site that’s on Ocean Man land,” she added. “The slough is not located within the old well site, it’s kind of beside it.”

Doug MacKnight defended the delay in notifying the public, saying cleanup efforts took priority. The pipeline was shut down after the breach was discovered, the province said. Tundra is leading the cleanup, with a dig on-site expected in the next two days.

Sources: Reuters, By Ethan Lou and Alastair Sharp | CALGARY, Alberta/TORONTO