Testing continues one year after oil spill

By Bryan Eneas
August 10, 2017 - 12:00pm

The Water Security Agency is continuously monitoring results from the North Saskatchewan River following the Husky Oil Spill last year.

Twenty-nine different compounds were found in Prince Albert drinking water; Sam Ferris, an executive director with the Water Security Agency, explained those numbers are as low as they can be.

“You can’t report zeroes, all you can report is less than detection,” Ferris said. “Essentially [the numbers reported] are as close to zero as we can measure right now… These are all below detection, there’s a handful of standards which apply [to chemicals] in the water, and they’re all below those numbers.”

In Prince Albert, sediment samples taken from the middle of the river showed 0.159 milligrams per kilogram of Toluene, a chemical used in gasoline products in sediment samples, is present.

Despite finding Toluene, drinking water test results from the North Saskatchewan River following the Husky Oil Spill show no threats to consumption.

“The water treatment plants in North Battleford, Prince Albert and the Melfort [and] Codette regional system all work very well to remove sediment materials,” Ferris said. “I don’t think it represents a risk in terms of drinking water.”

Ferris said it was unexpected to find Toluene in sediment samples; typically the compound breaks down quickly. He said there are no national guidelines for acceptable levels of Toluene in sediments in Canada.

Ferris said the sediment samples taken upstream of the spill site do show contamination, but it’s most likely from a smaller incident, like a boat motor spill due to the chemicals which were found.

River water samples produced by the Water Security Agency show no detectable traces of any compounds.

A statement issued by the Water Security Agency on July 20 stated none of the detected compounds exceed sediment quality guidelines to protect aquatic life.

Ferris said the Water Security Agency will continue to monitor the water and sediments monthly until October, or whenever the river freezes over.

A release issued by the Government of Saskatchewan on June 28 stated no oil has been detected in devices submerged in the North Saskatchewan River.



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