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Husky pleads guilty over oil leak into North Saskatchewan River

Last Updated Jun 12, 2019 at 9:33 am PDT

Crews work to clean up an oil spill on the North Saskatchewan river near Maidstone, Sask. on Friday, July 22, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

LLOYDMINSTER, Sask. — Husky Energy has pleaded guilty in a pipeline leak that sent oil spilling into a major river that is the source of drinking water for a number of Saskatchewan communities.

The spill into the North Saskatchewan River in July 2016 forced the cities of North Battleford, Prince Albert and Melfort to shut off their water intakes for almost two months.

Calgary-based Husky entered guilty pleas on three environmental charges in provincial court in Lloydminster, Sask.

Several other charges were withdrawn by the Crown.

About 40 per cent of 225,000 litres of diluted heavy oil from Husky’s pipeline near Maidstone in west-central Saskatchewan made it into the river.

It caused an oil plume that flowed hundreds of kilometres downstream.

The charges were announced in May 2018 after a 19-month joint federal-provincial investigation.

Husky had already apologized for the spill and said it accepted full responsibility.

The pipeline was allowed to restart in October 2016 after being repaired and inspected. The company has said the pipeline buckled and leaked because of ground movement.

The company pegged the cleanup cost at more than $107 million.