The spill affecting the Indigenous community happened shortly before Donald Trump announced plans to move forward with other controversial pipelines.
Just six months after a giant oil spill hit the province of Saskatchewan in Canada, another pipeline has burst there, affecting a small Indigenous community.
The 200,000-liter spill was first detected Friday by Ocean Man First Nation residents.
According to the government, 170,000 liters of oil had been recovered by Monday. It is unclear how the incident happened or which company owns the underground pipeline that leaked the oil. Tundra Energy Marketing Inc., which has a line adjacent to the spill, is leading cleanup efforts.
“There are a number of pipes in the area,” Doug McKnight, assistant deputy minister in the Ministry of the Economy, told Reuters. “Until we excavate it, we won’t know with 100-percent certainty which pipe.”
The previous oil spill, in July 2016, saw 225,000 liters of oil burst from a Husky Energy Inc. pipeline and into a major river. Afterwards, the drinking water supply of three cities was cut off for nearly two months.
Chief of Ocean Man First Nation, Connie Big Eagle, said Friday’s spill was 50 feet in diameter the day it was spotted.
She said an area resident who had smelled the scent of oil for a week located the spill and alerted her on Friday. The chief said there are no homes near the spill but it is about 1,320 feet from the local cemetery.
“We have got to make sure that Tundra has done everything that they can to get our land back to the way it was. That can take years,” she said. “They have assured me that they follow up and they don’t leave … until we are satisfied.”