Investigation shows Husky ignored alarms

By Bryan Eneas
March 23, 2017 - 11:29am

After months of waiting, the Ministry of Economy has released their findings on last year’s oil spill confirming Husky waited roughly 14 hours before responding to alarm bells.

In their report, the Ministry of Economy confirmed Husky’s pipeline buckled due to ground movement under the pipe which occurred “over many years.”

“The investigators concluded that the slope movement was not a one-time event,” the statement reads.

Investigations found 225 cubic meters of oil blended with distillates leaked into the river. It was found that roughly 60 percent was “contained or recovered on land prior to the point of entry into the river.”

The report states the volume calculation will continue to drive the clean-up and monitoring response by the provincial government.

Timeline of an oil spill: 

After analyzing operating data, investigators concluded the leak began on July 20, one day before anything was done. Events break down as follows:

July 20: The pipelines dual alarm system begins issuing warnings of potential problems.

July 21: The line is shut down for routine maintenance at 7:15 a.m.

8:30 a.m.: The ministry is first notified by phone from a member of the public who first saw an oil slick on the river.

8:40 a.m.: After confirming more details with the caller, ministry officials were dispatched to investigate the source of the oil slick.

9:35 a.m.: Ministry officials arrive on scene and confirm “a significant amount of oil on the river.” The source was not immediately clear; officials begin investigations.

9:50 a.m.: Ministry staff first contact Husky Energy regarding oil slick on the river. Husky confirms it also received similar reports, and “staff were looking for potential sources.”

10 a.m.: Husky contacts Ministry of Economy to confirm source of spill, upstream of the bridge where the oil slick was first sighted. After receiving confirmation of the spill, “the broader multi-agency provincial response team was activated,” with the ministry of environment formally taking the lead in the response “in accordance with longstanding procedures for substantive discharges impacting water bodies.” Ministry of economy immediately shifts focus to clean-up efforts and investigation into cause of break.

Regulations introduced since the spill

In a press statement, Minister Dustin Duncan said since the spill the government “has recognized the need to do better when it comes to preventing incidents.”

The pipeline amendment act was introduced in 2016, and is expected to be passed in the spring legislative session.

The Ministry of Economy will begin working on compliance audits of integrity management programs for companies who operate pipelines across major water crossings. The ministry will also work with stakeholders to develop regulatory standards for pipes crossing under waterways.

“The Husky investigations have revealed current regulatory standards and integrity management practises need to be strengthened to fully address the types of risks associated with these locations,” the report reads.

The ministry will also review the design of “legacy water crossings” to figure out if any additional regulations will be added to manage “geotechnical risks” and ensure any deficiencies in older pipelines are addressed by operators.

The Husky pipe which broke was constructed in 1997 “based on the engineering standards of the time,” according to the report.

“The full report will be released once all persecution processes and any appeals have been concluded,” the statement from the ministry concludes.


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