Saskatchewan’s premier says the most important thing in the oil spill crisis in his province is making sure affected communities have enough drinking water.
Brad Wall say the debate about whether pipelines in general are safe can wait until another day.
“We have a lot of folks in the RM of P.A. who don’t have water, so the government is cooperating, the municipalities are cooperating and Husky has offered to provide potable water. That’s got to be the first immediate response for all of us, but you bet we’ll have to get a handle on what the ecological impact is on that river.”
Wall told reporters in Regina Wednesday he expects Husky Energy to live up to its promise to cover the cost of responding to the spill in the North Saskatchewan River.
He says that includes not only the cleanup, but also costs of providing potable water, and covering the loss of business for car washes and laundromats which have had to shut down.
A leak from a Husky oil pipeline last Thursday released up to 250,000 litres of oil at the community of Maidstone and has been making its way downstream.
It has already hit the cities of North Battleford, Prince Albert and Melfort, where water intakes have been shut down , and water conservation measures have been put in place.
Wall says he’s asking for more accurate information on how long the water restrictions are likely to last.
“We’re asking the water security agency to do whatever they can to make sure we’re providing an estimate, an accurate estimate. Local leaders need it, and we need it as a government to plan for how long the event will be in terms of making alternative arrangements for water in effected communities.”