Canadian authorities seek to contain oil spill moving down river

Sat Jul 23, 2016 4:44pm EDT
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By Ethan Lou

(Reuters) - Authorities are building a new containment boom to fight an oil spill in a major western Canadian river, officials said on Saturday, after the spill breached a previous barrier and threatened the drinking water of several communities along the coast.

The city of North Battleford, which draws its drinking water in part from the North Saskatchewan River, shut its supply intake on Friday and switched to using ground water, provincial officials said in a telephone conference with reporters.

Some 1,572 barrels of heavy oil and diluent leaked from Husky Energy Inc's Saskatchewan Gathering System pipeline on Thursday, flowing into the river.

The Calgary-based company has shut the line, stopping the leak, and has been working to contain the spill. It has said it has alternatives ways to move oil and expects "minimal impact."

Husky spokesman Mel Duvall said in a statement the cleanup at the source is "nearing completion."

"A thorough investigation will take place in due course," he said. "There have been no reported impacts to wildlife or aquatic life."

It is not immediately clear what caused the spill, which the province says first appeared some 600 meters (0.3 miles) from the river.

Water levels rose on Friday, pushing debris into the booms upstream from North Battleford, a city of 14,000, and the oil continued to moved downward.   Continued...