JAN 26, 2017 09:31 AM PST

Canada Pipeline Leaks 53,000 Gallons of Oil on First Nations Land

Saskatchewan was hit hard last week with an oil spill from a pipeline on the lands of the Ocean Man First Nation, which sits 140 km southeast of the provincial capital of Regina. It is unknown which company holds the responsibility for the pipeline that leaked 200,000 liters (52,834 gallons) of oil into the native people’s community. Ocean Man, which has 540 residents, reported through their chief, Connie Big Eagle, that the spill was 15 meters in diameter on Friday. No oil has apparently leaked into the water supply and no houses are close to the leak, although the spill but it is about 400 meters from the local cemetery.

Doug McKnight, assistant deputy minister in the Ministry of the Economy, which regulates pipelines in Saskatchewan, stated that the government was alerted late Friday afternoon. Since then, 170,000 liters have been recovered.

Tundra Energy Marketing is the company leading the efforts to clean up the spill. Following CNBC, Tundra is a privately held unit of Canadian grain trading and energy conglomerate James Richardson and Sons. The company released a statement saying, “Clean-up work on the site commenced immediately and involved the removal of surface oil with vacuum trucks. Additional clean-up work and remediation will be conducted to ensure that the affected land is restored appropriately.”

Unfortunately, oil spills are not new to Saskatchewan. Last year there was another major incident in Saskatchewan, in which a Husky Energy Inc pipeline leaked 225,000 liters into a major river and cut off the drinking water supply for two cities.

The site of an oil pipeline spill is seen in an aerial photograph provided by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, near Stoughton, Saskatchewan, Canada taken on January 23, 2017. INAC/Handout via Reuters

Ocean Man Chief Connie Big Eagle is adamant that whoever responsible for the spill will have to be accountable. "We have got to make sure that Tundra has done everything that they can to get our land back to the way it was. That can take years," she said. "They have assured me that they follow up and they don't leave ... until we are satisfied."

The news of this spill comes at a painfully ironic timing just as President Trump has given the executive orders to continue the advancement of the  Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL.

Sources: CNBC, Reuters

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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