Now that my trip to British Columbia is over, I am spending today trying to catch up on the local news I’ve missed while I was gone — mainly, concerning the Husky pipeline breach that leaked oil into the North Saskatchewan River, contaminating the river for hundreds of miles.
This really is a bad situation. North Battleford (above) is one of the places impacted but it sounds like other communities face a much more dire emergency, with Prince Albert in particular scrambling to preserve its water supply.
While the city of North Battleford also takes water from the river, it also has a plant that gets water from groundwater wells and is able to rely on that for the time being. And the town of Battleford doesn’t take its water from the river, they totally rely on groundwater.
So the situation around here isn’t as dire as it is in PA and other places, but there are a heap of water restrictions in place at the moment. Long term, there are lots of questions about what the environmental impact on the river valley is going to be, or whether the water from the river will be safe to drink any time soon.
No doubt, this would have been a story I would have been assigned had I not taken a vacation. I’m thinking maybe I should have taken my time off in August instead of July. Then again, maybe it’s a good thing I was on vacation when this happened, because this is exactly the type of story that would have raised my blood pressure.
I notice Brian Zinchuk has been hard at work, relying on all his expertise about oil, pipelines and so on to file his stories for the paper. Zinchuk knows far more about this kind of stuff than I do and he’d be able to ask far more intelligent questions than I would. He calls this whole situation a mess.
The out of town media has also been hard at work on the story. I notice BNN’s Andrew Bell did an interview with Mayor Ian Hamilton recently.
Prince Albert city manager Jim Toye has also been on the news during this crisis, and he’s another guy I’ve dealt with heavily over the years because he used to be the city manager in North Battleford.
I notice a lot of media folks on Twitter are sniping at Husky for not being available to do interviews with them. There are a lot of questions going unanswered about what happened, with confusion about the timeline of the spill and how it happened and so on. This is not good PR on the part of Husky to keep these reporters in the dark on this.
Anyway, that is the plan for today, to try and catch up on all this major news that erupted while I was away in BC.