Major oil leak occurs on First Nation territory in Saskatchewan

Over 200,000 litres of crude oil has affected Ocean Man First Nation

Just over 200,000 litres of oil has been leaked on First Nations territory in Saskatchewan.

The oil leak affects farmland on the Ocean Man First Nation, treaty land southeast of Regina. While it is not a residential area, the leak has reached a cemetery that the band in the area deems sacred.

Clint Big Eagle, an Ocean Man First Nation resident, claims he came across the spill after investigating a bad smell that lingered in the air nearby for over two weeks.

The leak appears to have affected an area of land approximately 20 metres in radius, and happened on a frozen slough in lower terrain, which helped the spill remain relatively contained to one area.

According to an email update from the province, about 180,000 litres have been recovered so far. The Saskatchewan government reported that neither air quality nor wildlife appear to have been affected by the spill.

The pipeline was confirmed to have belonged to Tundra Energy Marketing Limited, an oil service provider based in Calgary and southwest Manitoba. While the official cause has not yet been determined, assistant deputy minister to the ministry of the economy Doug MacKnight said that officials noticed a small hole on a weld near the pipeline while working on its excavation.

Tundra Energy Marketing released a brief statement confirming the source of the leak, and assured that they were “working closely with regulatory bodies and Ocean Man First Nation to determine the cause of the incident.”

Just last July, Saskatchewan faced another major oil spill when 225,000 litres of Husky Energy oil leaked through a ruptured pipeline and into the North Saskatchewan River, resulting in the drinking water supply in two cities to be cut off. In just the last month, there have been 25 oil- or gas-related spills in Saskatchewan.

These spills come after several large pipeline approvals in both Canada and the United States. Just last week, after months of highly publicized negative backlash from American citizens over the proposed pipelines, President Donald Trump ordered that the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines resume construction. In November of 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal cabinet signed off on a $6.8-billion proposed expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, a decision that he has been criticised by environmental groups.

The Saskatchewan government has no record of the Tundra Energy Marketing pipeline ever being inspected, but adds that it is the company’s responsibility to keep track of their pipeline inspections.