A pipeline that leaked thousands of litres of oil onto the Ocean Man First Nation has never been inspected by the Saskatchewan government.
The province confirmed Thursday the line is nearly 50 years old, built in 1968. At that time, pipelines shorter than 15 kilometres were not required to be licensed under provincial law.
“The pipeline itself, we have no record of inspecting it since we licensed it retroactively in 2014. Prior to that it was unlicensed and we just don’t have any record as to whether it was inspected,” said Doug MacKnight with the ministry of the economy.
“The companies are required to inspect these pipes on an ongoing basis, part of their licensing requirement. So the companies are inspecting it both visually and physically,” he added.
MacKnight said visual inspections are usually done in the air via planes and physical checks are carried out using various technologies through lines, which look for things like corrosion and assess pipeline thickness.
The province alerted media Monday about the oil spill, where 200,000 litres found its way onto agricultural land within the First Nation. As of Thursday afternoon, roughly 90 per cent had been cleaned up. Removal of saturated soil continues.
Excavation uncovered a hole in the top of the pipeline, owned by Tundra Energy Marketing. That portion of pipe will be tested. A cause of the spill has not yet been determined.
MacKnight said the government is interested to know why Tundra’s detection system didn’t alert the company. He said, depending on what the investigation uncovers, regulatory enhancements could be looked at, after this spill and the 225,000 litres of Husky Energy oil that seeped into the North Saskatchewan River in the summer of 2016.
Tundra is required to file two reports which include an initial incident report within the next few days. Within 90 days, a more detailed report including the cause is required.
The company has not yet publicly commented on this recent spill.