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Husky fines $ 3.8 million for fees incurred through Saskatchewan oil spills

Husky Oil Operations Ltd., a subsidiary of Husky Energy, fined $ 3.8 million for a pipeline leak that hit oil to a large river and seized the drinking water supply for thousands of people in Saskatchewan.

The dam in North Saskatchewan River in July 2016 forced the cities of North Battleford, Prince Albert and Melfort to shut off their water intake for almost two months.

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Calgary-based Husky accused earlier this day in the provincial court of Lloydminster, Sask., To three environmental charges.

About 225,000 liters of dilute heavy oil was spilled from Husky's pipeline near Maidstone in western central Saskatchewan and the company said about 40 percent did it in the river.

Judge Lorna Dyck accepted a common recommendation from lawyers for the amount of the fine.

"This case has been a difficult and challenging one for several reasons," she said in her decision.

She noted that two alarms had gone but not been registered or reported to senior staff.

"When the leak was discovered, Husky worked quickly and properly," the judge said.

"I think Husky has learned from this mistake."

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The two federal fees under the Fisheries Act and the Convention on Moving Bird Conventions relate to the deposition of a harmful substance in water that is visited by fish and birds. The provincial conviction is to "allow the release of a substance … into the environment" that causes a negative effect.

The federal crown drew seven other charges.

Brad Gilmour, a lawyer for Husky, apologizes for the game in court.

"There is no doubt that this was a very serious and significant event. Husky is genuinely incredible," he said.

"Husky acknowledges that the accident resulted in actual damage … it had an impact on downstream communities as well as the environment."

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Birds and fish are likely to have died as a result, he added.

"There has never been an environmental event as significant as this one in the province," said Saskatchewan prosecutor Matthew Miazga to the court.

"Literally, tens of thousands of people were affected downstream."

Federal Prosecutor Stephen Jordan said Husky has taken steps to ensure that such a spill never happens again.

About 40 percent of 225,000 liters of dilute heavy oil from Husky's pipeline near Maidstone in western central Saskatchewan made it to the river. It caused an oil pump that flowed hundreds of kilometers downstream.

The allegations were announced in May 2018 following a 19-month joint federal-provincial investigation.

Husky had already apologized for the game and said it accepted full responsibility. The company said the pipeline was buckling and leaking due to the ground movement.

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The pipeline had to be restarted in October 2016 after repair and inspection.

The company hung up the cleaning cost of more than $ 107 million. Husky said more than 90 percent of the oil was recovered.

A statement about the victim's role submitted by three indigenous peoples in the area said that the cleaning was not good enough. Chief Wayne Semaganis spoke on behalf of his Little Pine First Nation and also for Sweetgrass and Red Phheasant bands.

He said that birds, animals and fish such as walleye and northern pike still suffer from the effects of oil contamination. As a result, the first nations have lost traditional use of their land.

"We are no longer fishing in the river. We no longer fall on or near reserve countries. We no longer go on or near reserve lands," he said.

"We no longer drink water drawn from reserve lands. In fact, many just drink bottled water."

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Semaganis said the indigenous communities still feel the impact of the game and the residents are worried, scared and psychologically stressed.

"We are quite clear about two facts … the cleansing of the pollution is insufficient and incomplete."

The cities of North Battleford and Prince Albert also submitted statements about victimization that read out the crown.

"The impact was sharp, ongoing and will cause long-lasting changes in procedures and processes," said North Battleford's chief executive James Puffalt.

Prince Albert's statement said that the game caused significant disturbances and stress for the residents and had great costs.

Spray parks were closed at the top of the summer vacation. Laundromats were shut down. Car washes could not work and the companies had to close.

"The city had to carry out its emergency surgery center," the statement said.

In addition, the city must add temporary lines to two nearby rivers for drinking water.

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