July 27, 2016 / 6:12 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Canadian premier 'not satisfied' with Husky spill response

3 Min Read

(New throughout, adds details on spill, comments from environmentalist, Saskatchewan officials, attempt to reach Husky)

By Rod Nickel

July 27 (Reuters) - Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said on Wednesday he was not satisfied with Husky Energy Inc's emergency response to an oil spill into a river that supplies drinking water, and said the western Canadian province needed to consider ways to avoid a recurrence.

The spill of 1,572 barrels of oil from a Husky pipeline into the North Saskatchewan River started late on July 20, but flows were not shut down until the following morning, the company said on Tuesday.

"No, I'm not satisfied, I don't think anybody should be," Wall told reporters in Regina. "I don't think Husky's satisfied -- they better not be."

Even so, Wall said he was not aware of any "egregious error or misjudgment" by Husky, other than the delay in responding to the spill.

Husky spokespersons could not be immediately reached for comment.

Asked whether Saskatchewan should take steps to prevent future spills, such as requiring pipelines to be doubled up near rivers, Wall suggested he was open to considering them.

"That should all be on the table."

The cities of Prince Albert and North Battleford have stopped drawing drinking water from the river, and are using other sources temporarily.

The spill is smaller than some previous ones in Saskatchewan, but it is taking a bigger toll on wildlife because it involves a major river, said Peter Prebble, director of environmental policy at Saskatchewan Environmental Society.

The provincial government said on Wednesday that it had discovered 14 dead animals, mainly birds.

It was likely that many more animals have been harmed by contact with the polluted water, Prebble said. Longer-term impacts may become worse as the oil sinks and becomes harder to capture, he said.

"I feel insufficient effort has been made to get this oil off the surface as quickly as possible and not let it sink to the bottom," Prebble said.

Husky is using nine booms to collect oil on the river's surface, but has not determined how to recover oil that has mixed with sediment and sank, said Wes Kotyk, a spokesman for Saskatchewan's environment ministry. (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Additional reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by David Gregorio)

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