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225,000 litres of oil flowed into a river, despite leak detection alarms

Calgary’s provincial government has released details of its investigation into the spill that saw 225,000 litres of crude oil flow into the North Saskatchewan River from a pipeline operated by Husky Energy.

Oil flowed into the river for seven hours on 21 July 2016 before the pipeline was shut down for scheduled maintenance. According to the provincial government’s investigation, alarms were triggered in the pipeline’s leak detection system but the Calgary based company did not immediately stop the flow of oil.

“I am deeply concerned about this type of incident,” Energy and Resources Minister Dustin Duncan told The Star Phoenix. “I think our actions to date and going forward … show that we’ve taken this very seriously.”

A variety of reasons can cause leak detection systems to sound, but Duncan said that it should be the responsibility of companies to find out “as quickly as possible” whether oil had been leaked and shut down the pipeline in question.

A representative from Husky told The Star Phoenix that the company is working to improve the safety of its pipelines with geotechnical assessments and policies to ensure mandatory shutdowns a fixed time after alarms sound.

The provincial government’s full report on the incident won’t be made public until prosecutors have finished reviewing it. Husky attributes the oil spill to ground movement.