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The Canadian Department of Environment is charging Husky Energy with nine counts of environmental damage related to an oil spill that occurred in 2016, and the province of Saskatchewan has added one more under the local Environmental Management and Protection Act.
Husky reported the pipeline leak in late July, saying the incident had resulted in a spill of 200,000 to 250,000 liters of crude oil into the North Saskatchewan River. Saskatchewan conducted a joint investigation with federal authorities that took 19 months. The total fines that the oil company is facing could reach US$780,000 (C$1 million).
Though the amount of money Husky Energy may have to pay is not considered significant—all things considered--the charges once again highlight the issues facing pipeline builders in Canada.
Following the announcement of the charges, Saskatchewan’s Minister of Environment said the spill had led to major changes in the province’s Pipelines Act, including stricter regulations, more provisions for penalizing companies for spills and greater auditing powers for the authorities.
Husky took full responsibility for the accident immediately and has now reiterated that in a statement to CBC.
"Fundamentally, we accept full responsibility for the incident, as we have from the beginning. We deeply regret this happened and we are sorry for the impact it had. We have worked hard every day since to make things right and we have learned from it," Husky said.
The company, however, has declined to comment on the charges until it has had time to review them.
An appeal is a possibility.
Husky is due in court this Thursday to respond to both federal and provincial charges. Eight of the federal charges were laid under the Fisheries Act and one under the Migratory Birds Convention Act. The Saskatchewan charge is for "unlawfully permitting the discharge of a substance to the environment that caused an adverse effect."
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.