Red Pheasant community still finding oil from Husky spill, councillor claims
Red Pheasant First Nation councillor Henry Boss Gardipy (left) says he found oil sheens about 180 kilometres downstream from the Husky Oil spill nearly one year later. (Larissa Burnouf/APTN)
A Red Pheasant First Nation councillor says he’s still finding oil downstream from where thousands of litres of oil spilled into the North Saskatchewan River last year.
Henry Boss Gardipy was recently followed by Aboriginal Peoples Television Network to where he found sheens of oil 50 yards from the river and about 180 kilometres downstream from the spill site. He suspects the oil is a byproduct of the July 2016 leak, which spilled 225,000 litres of heavy oil mixed with diluent from a Husky Energy pipeline onto the bank of the river near Maidstone, Sask.
About 90,000 litres reached the river and the oil plume flowed hundreds of kilometres downstream, according to a Husky report.
“Seeing it for our own eyes, as leadership, we are pretty amazed what is still left there,” Gardipy told APTN.
Husky has stated it takes full responsibility for the leak.
The company said about 93 per cent of the spill was cleaned up last year, and officials announced early last month crews were being sent out to start more shoreline cleanup.
Gardipy said, still, the spill has left many in the affected First Nations communities with doubts about the safety of their meat and plants.
Several of the communities tasked the Saskatchewan First Nations Natural Resource Centre of Excellence with conducting independent samples of the First Nations lands, according to APTN.
The centre’s CEO, Sheldon Wuttunee, said it found “a lot of residue.”
“We found a number of deposits of oil, really in respect to Red Pheasant,” Wuttunee said, “so certainly the ongoing and cumulative impacts relating to medicines, wildlife, to the fish habitat and really existence for our people in sustenance has become a real big issue.”
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron told APTN that First Nations communities are considering all options, including lawsuits. He said he doesn’t trust Husky’s reports and alleged inaccuracies.
“How can you justify the oil that has sunken into the ground? The oil that’s in other places?” he said.
“The inaccurate reports coming from Husky, it’s not going to cut it. It doesn’t do us justice when there is still oil and the compensation still needs to be ironed out.”
Saskatchewan's Justice Ministry said in March it’s reviewing Husky Energy's response to alarms before the spill to determine whether charges are warranted.
--- based on a report by APTN’s Larissa Burnouf and with files from The Canadian Press