Premier Brad Wall meets with reporters. Photo courtesy of Manfred Joehnck

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says now is not the time to talk about pipeline safety, instead he says all the discussion should be about making sure there is a safe drinking water for tens of thousands of central Saskatchewan residents following last week’s contamination of the North Saskatchewan River by a pipeline break.

Today was the first time the Premier has spoken to local reporters since the 250,000-litre spill happened last Wednesday.

He will tour the affected communities tomorrow including North Battleford, Prince Albert and possibly Melfort. They are all downstream from the spill, and have had to shut off their water intakes and find alternate sources of water until the river is declare safe again. Wall says the big question is just how long that will be.

Environment officials have said it could be months, but no one knows for sure. The premier is pushing department officials to get a more accurate assessment of the time frame.

“We are asking the Water Security Agency to do whatever they can to make sure we are providing an accurate estimate because local officials need it, and we need it as a government.” he said.

NDP Leader Trent Wotherspoon is not satisfied with the response of the Wall government.

He says it took more than a day before information was released to the public. He adds that the immediate spill response was inadequate and communities are still not getting all the support they need.

Wotherspoon says now should be a time of all hands on deck, not politics.

“Right now, what we don’t need is a political fight,” he said. “What we need is a full response — standing together as a province to clean up this oil and protect the water,” he adds, “It sickens me and saddens me to no end that we had this period of time that oil continued to spill into this river.”

Husky provided new information today that suggested there was an indication of a spill Wednesday, July 20th around 8:00 pm. Attempts were made to find the source of the location, but it wasn’t until the next morning with the help of an aircraft, the oil slick was seen on the North Saskatchewan River near Maidstone. Valves to the damaged pipe were turned off at 6:00 am.