More bands start legal action against Husky Energy following 2016 oil spill

By Bryan Eneas
August 2, 2018 - 5:00pm

Three new bands are starting to seek legal action against the energy company responsible for the 2016 oil spill into the North Saskatchewan River.

The James Smith Cree Nation and the Cumberland House Cree Nation each filed lawsuits on July 21; it turns out, three additional bands filed paperwork just days before for the same reason.

Little Pine, Sweetgrass, and Red Pheasant Cree Nation jointly filed legal paperwork arguing Husky Energy was negligent in both the maintenance of the pipeline and in clean-up efforts following the spill.

On July 20, 2016, a pipeline ruptured, spilling some 225,000 liters of oil and diluent into the North Saskatchewan River. In response, several cities and reserves were forced to implement water restrictions and limit access to the river.

The Statement of Claim filed July 18, spells out how band members were impacted in the form of water access restrictions as well as hunting, trapping, fishing, and gathering limitations.

The documents state Husky was negligent in the construction and maintenance of the pipeline, became a nuisance and trespassed on band lands and violated rights through the spill.

All three bands are seeking financial reparations from Husky Energy. In total, they’re requesting $35,000,000 in compensatory payments, $20,000,000 or an amount to be determined at trial in aggravated damages and $20,000,000 in punitive damages. The bands are seeking pre and post judgment interest and the costs of legal fees to be covered by the company as well.

The plaintiffs are also requesting the courts to order Husky Energy to remediate all of the contamination caused by the 2016 oil spill.

The parties are also seeking to have the courts order Husky to “stop their continued pollution of Reserve lands, the Treaty 6 lands, and the river, including contamination migrating in, under, or through soil, surface water and ground water.”

In response to the legal action filed by the bands, Mel Duvall, a Husky spokesperson said it would be inappropriate for the company to offer comment as the matters are before the courts.

He did however note the company has worked alongside affected communities through the process.

“From the outset, we took full responsibility for this incident and worked cooperatively with downstream communities, including First Nations,” Duvall said.

 

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