The first test results for water samples taken from the North Saskatchewan River are now known and being shared with the communities impacted by the oil spill.
More than 1,000 samples were taken since oil spilled from a Husky Energy pipeline on July 21 with over 250 results now being reported.
Only anecdotal evidence is being shared now and being compared to a typical scale of one to 10, with one being good and 10 bad.
“I would suggest that the little that I know is that it is far closer to the good side of that scale than the bad side,” said Ash Olesen, with the Ministry of Environment.
At this point in the clean-up efforts, roughly 133,000 litres of oil has been recovered from the river nearly two weeks after it happened.
There have been 38 wildlife deaths reported so far, mostly fish and birds.
The extent of how far the oil has travelled is still being monitored, but so far no sheen has been seen on the water as it reaches the Codette reservoir several hundred kilometres away.
Officials now say it will be impossible to recover all of the oil as some will have settled on the bottom of the river in the sediment and it will be monitored over time to see what impact it has.
“That would be part of the risk-assessment work that would be undertaken by various experts that have training in both ecological and human risk assessment,” explained Olesen. “As for excavating it, the notion of re-suspending the pollutants of concern would be something that would need to be evaluated through the risk-assessment process and that may not be the best option.”
In the initial days of the spill 69,000 residents had their drinking water supply impacted. North Battleford is now in a better position and work continues to build a water pipe between that city and the town of Battleford.
Supply from the Little Red River is helping the situation in Prince Albert and is hoped a line from the South Saskatchewan River will improve things even further.
Melfort and surrounding communities are also without any major problems.
There is still no cost estimate attached to the oil spill but Husky has reached out to specific communities. The expectations from government are that Husky should pay.