Photo courtesy the Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh

Clean up continues at one of Saskatchewan’s largest oil spills in its history.

On Thursday morning, 250 thousand litres of crude oil spilled into the North Saskatchewan River through a leak at a Husky Oil pipeline near the Town of Maidstone.

Environmental officials say they were able to clean up 43 thousand litres of that oil along the shore.

“This is a rare event,” said Wes Kotyk, Executive Director of the Ministry of Environment’s Environmental Protection Branch. “We don’t have instances of this magnitude very often.”

Right now, a large plume of oil is moving down the river and crews have set up a containment system northwest of North Battleford to catch the plume and hopefully skim off the remaining oil.

Secondary containment systems will also be put in place. Clean up work will continue into the weekend.

“Once the plume has been contained and the immediate emergency activities are addressed we will move into longer term remediation and reclamation activities and into the recovery stage of the response,” said Kotyk.

The North Saskatchewan River flows through North Battleford, Prince Albert and all the way through Cumberland House.

Kotyk says at this time communities downstream are not impacted by the spill. He says they are hoping to contain the oil before it reaches any community, but if it does he says safeguards are in place.

“If a plume were to pass through their community they can shut down their intake for a period of time while that passes and they will have to do some monitoring to ensure the water is safe for their residents.”

Kotyk says there is potential for an impact on wildlife, particularly where oil has collected on the shore. Wildlife management is currently working on a plan to reduce that impact.

Officials also say Husky Oil will be on the hook for most of the clean up cost.

There’s been no word yet on the cause of the oil spill, the expected cost of clean up, or the impact this spill could have on the environment.