Saskatchewan Oil Spill Might Have Left Bigger Mess Than Government Says: Scientist

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Last month's oil spill in Saskatchewan might have leaked much more crude into the province's rivers than the government or Husky Energy are letting on.

Saskatchewan's Water Security Agency said 88 per cent of the 250,000 litres of oil that spilled into the North Saskatchewan River had been cleaned up as of last week.

The agency also said nearby cities could resume taking water from the river and that there was no significant risk to public health.

"I think a lot more oil escaped than they’re letting on, and I think a lot of it is going to end up at the bottom, in the sediments, and that’s going to be a long-term problem,” hydrogeologist Ricardo Segovia told the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

"I think a lot more oil escaped than they’re letting on. " — hydrogeologist Ricardo Segovia

Segovia works for E-Tech International, a non-profit that provides independent environmental testing. His organization was commissioned by concerned indigenous and non-indigenous communities about the environmental impact of the spill.

The organization found that Husky's late reaction delayed the spill's cleanup. It also alleges that the energy company was not transparent with cleanup plans and did not warn nearby residents of all of the health risks.

saskatchewan oil spill
Oil floats on the surface of the North Saskatchewan River on July 22, 2016. (Photo: Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

The latest water sample test in the river found levels of a carcinogen that exceeded drinking water guidelines, CBC News reported.

However, a representative of Saskatchewan's Water Security Agency said those findings won't impact plans to get water systems back up and running.

The spill affected the water supply to three cities and killed at least 150 animals. The cause of the spill is currently under investigation.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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