Provincial officials are asking drivers to proceed with caution as they drive near the two pipelines coming into the city.
Duane McKay, the province’s commissioner of emergency management said, there was a delay Saturday, June 30 getting the 30 km South Saskatchewan River pipeline fully functional.
“Unfortunately, there was a traffic accident, or incident I would say, where part of the pipeline was impacted, and so the pumping operation had to stop until repairs were made,” he said.
He asked residents who used both Highway 55 and Highway 302 to be watchful and obey speed limits.
“There is some safety issues there, there are people stopping in and monitoring pumps, workers are in that particular area, and emergency crews are moving back-and-forth between those areas. Any impact to those would certainly have a catastrophic impact on the city and the residents of Prince Albert,” he said. “There is obviously a risk, that if we continue to experience technical difficulties or unforeseen difficulties, like somebody not paying attention to road conditions then obviously that will have an impact on the operation."
McKay said beyond the incident, the pipeline’s testing stage was moving along well and the pipeline should be fully operational "soon."
The second, smaller pipeline from Little Red River Park is functioning well, according to McKay. Construction of a dam in the Spruce River was completed yesterday and a liner is being installed to help the pumping operation.
Prince Albert is still relying on its reserve pond water, which still has two to three days of supply left.
Efforts to test the quality of water from the Spruce River and the South Saskatchewan River are still ongoing. There is no timeline yet of when this process will be complete, according to Sam Ferris with the Water Security Agency.
In North Battleford, Ferris said the situation is stable and a pipeline to provide water from Battleford is on track to be completed close to Tuesday.
Clean up Efforts in Maidstone
Wes Kotyk, with the Ministry of Environment, said the department continues to focus on the environmental impact of the spill, taking water samples and analyzing data they collect to “inform decisions going forward.”
Kotyk said clean-up efforts were slowed down Saturday, due to receding water levels in the river, creating a “new hazard”.
“What’s happening then is that there are areas where there is sandbars that are being encountered and some of them might be under the surface of the water and not visible, so, the access where the boats can go and travel (in the cleanup process), they have to ensure that they are very careful not to hit those and may have to change some of their routes.”
He said seven kilometres of shoreline have been cleaned so far and the province aims to clean approximately 38 km at this preliminary stage. Kotyk estimated 126 cubic metres of oil has been recovered.
Forty-two animals, including birds, have been confirmed dead due to the oil spill. Thirteen animals are still in recovery.
Kotyk said the ministry has received a draft analysis of the water quality, with over 600 of 900 samples checked.
On Twitter: @julietkadzviti
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