Target: Saskatchewan Minister of Economy Jeremy Harrison
Goal: Ensure a quick response time for oil spills, and hold pipeline operators accountable.
A pipeline has spilled 50,000 gallons of oil onto First Nations lands in Saskatchewan, the second spill in the last seven months. Pipeline spill detection systems failed and it was left to members of the nearby Ocean Man First Nation to report the spill after residents smelled the odour of oil for a week. The Saskatchewan government only publicly announced the leak three days after the Ocean Man First Nation informed them of the potential spill. Even then, the authorities could not identify which pipeline was the source of the spill, stating that there were too many pipelines in the area.
Cleanup is underway and is being led by the firm responsible for the pipeline closest to the spill. However, given the slow reaction time, the cleanup may never recover all of the spilled oil. This may result in long-term soil and ecosystem contamination as well as potential groundwater contamination. Previous leaks in Saskatchewan have forced multiple communities to switch their sources of drinking water. The slow response to this spill, the failure of the spill detection systems, and the lack of clear accountability for the spill highlight systemic faults in the Saskatchewan spill management system. Sign our petition and demand a comprehensive review of the spill response process.
Dear Minister Harrison,
I was dismayed to hear of the oil pipeline spill on Ocean Man First Nation land and shocked at the slow response to the spill. As you know, spill detection systems failed and the spill was reported by members of the Ocean Man First Nation after they smelled the scent of oil for a week. This raises the possibility that the leak was ongoing for at least 10 days before the government of Saskatchewan responded.
While a large portion of the oil has been recovered, some of it will have soaked into the ground raising the possibility of persistent ground, ecosystem, and water contamination in the area. Furthermore, given that the spill detection system failed, it is almost impossible to determine which firm is responsible for the leak without excavating pipelines, which raises the potential for further leaks caused by excavators.
I believe this leak and the slow response highlight systemic issues with the Saskatchewan spill response policy. I urge you to review these processes to ensure that firms have functional spill detection systems, that governmental response to any spill occurs within hours of initial reports, and that the Saskatchewan government engage in a comprehensive review of the maintenance records of all pipelines.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Jason Woodhead