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Federal government fines Husky $2.7 million for North Saskatchewan spill

On June 12, 2019, Husky Oil Operations Limited pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Fisheries Act and one count of violating the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994.
On June 12, 2019, Husky Oil Operations Limited pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Fisheries Act and one count of violating the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994.

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health, safety, and environment of Canadians. The Government enforces laws that protect Canada's air, water, and natural environment, and we take this responsibility very seriously.

On June 12, 2019, Husky Oil Operations Limited pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Fisheries Act and one count of violating the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994. The company has been ordered to pay a fine of $2.5 million for violating the Fisheries Act and a fine of $200,000 for violating the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994. 

The fines will be directed to the Government of Canada's Environmental Damages Fund and will be used to support projects related to the conservation and protection of fish and migratory birds within the North Saskatchewan and/or Saskatchewan River and their associated watersheds.

The charges are related to an incident that occurred between July 20 and 21, 2016, when an estimated 225,000 litres of blended heavy crude oil leaked from a Husky Oil Operations Limited pipeline. Approximately 90,000 litres of the oil entered the North Saskatchewan River near Maidstone, Saskatchewan. The oil was found to be deleterious, or harmful, to fish and migratory birds.

Husky Oil Operations Limited pleaded guilty to the following charges:

  • depositing a deleterious substance in water frequented by fish or in a place where the deleterious substance may enter water frequented by fish, in violation of subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act, and
  • depositing or permitting the deposit of a substance that is harmful to migratory birds, in waters or in an area frequented by migratory birds or in a place from which the substance may enter such waters, in violation of subsection 5.1(1) of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994.

Environment and Climate Change Canada's National Environmental Emergencies Centre responded to the July 2016 spill. Environmental emergency officers were on-site from July 22, 2016, to early October 2016 to provide regulatory oversight and guide efforts to protect the environment. A year after the spill, in 2017, and once again in 2018, the National Environmental Emergencies Centre's Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Team returned to the North Saskatchewan River to assess the water and shorelines, following the spring ice breakup.

As a result of the federal conviction, the company's name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.

In addition to pleading guilty to offences under federal legislation, Husky Oil Operations Limited has pleaded guilty to one count under the provincial Environmental Management and Protection Act, 2010. For more information, contact Saskatchewan's Ministry of Environment.

Quick facts

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act, which prohibit the deposit of deleterious substances into water frequented by fish.
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for administering and enforcing the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, which aims to protect and conserve migratory bird populations as well as individual birds and their nests. The Act prohibits the deposit of harmful substances into areas frequented by migratory birds and other human activities that are potentially harmful to migratory birds.
  • Created in 1995, the Environmental Damages Fund is a Government of Canada program administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada. The Fund follows the polluter-pays principle, and it ensures that court-awarded penalties are used for projects with positive environmental impacts.
  • The Environmental Offenders Registry contains information on convictions of corporations registered for offences committed under certain federal environmental laws.

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