REGINA, Saskatchewan, July 25 (UPI) -- With an oil spill threatening area water ways, provincial leaders in Saskatchewan said protecting drinking water supplies was the top priority.
Responders working with Canadian company Husky Energy are cleaning up after about 1,550 barrels of oil was released about a quarter mile from the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. According to provincial leaders, crews have so far recovered about 620 barrels of oil, though the slick is moving downstream and threatening regional drinking water supplies.
Trent Wotherspoon, the provincial leader from the opposition New Democratic Party, said finger-pointing would come after concerns about public safety were addressed.
"Right now, our priority -- and that of the affected communities -- is ensuring safe drinking water and getting this spill cleaned up," he said in a statement.
The heavier type of oil found in Canada has the potential to sink in water and mix in with river sediment, making clean-up operations complex.
Provincial leaders have erected river barriers and other containment features to control the spill, though residents were advised to conserve water during the response effort. Same Ferris with the provincial Water Security Agency was quoted by the Saskatoon StarPhoenix as saying construction of a 15-mile temporary drinking-water pipeline was underway.
"They've done an admirable job [of planning]," Ferris said. "It's a temporary installation."