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Canada Pipeline Spills Oil on Aboriginal Land

The site of the oil pipeline spill.The site of the oil pipeline spill.

A pipeline in the western Canadian province of Saskatchewan has leaked 200,000 liters (around 1,250 barrels) of oil in an aboriginal community, the provincial government said.

The government was notified late on Friday, and 170,000 liters have since been recovered, said Doug McKnight, assistant deputy minister in the Ministry of the Economy, which regulates pipelines in Saskatchewan, CNBC reported.

Oil pipelines are viewed by the oil-rich provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan as a critical lifeline to move crude to the coast, but they have drawn fierce opposition from environmental and indigenous groups.

The spill came seven months after another major incident in Saskatchewan, in which a Husky Energy Inc pipeline leaked 225,000 liters into a major river and cut off the drinking water supply for two cities. It was not immediately clear how the current incident happened or which company owns the underground pipeline that leaked the oil. McKnight said Tundra Energy Marketing, which has a line adjacent to the spill, is leading cleanup efforts.

"There are a number of pipes in the area," he told reporters in Regina. "Until we excavate it, we won't know with 100% certainty which pipe."

Tundra, a privately held unit of Canadian grain trading and energy conglomerate James Richardson and Sons, released a statement saying it is cooperating with all levels of government and will ensure "the affected land is restored appropriately."

The incident happened in the lands of the Ocean Man First Nation 140 kilometers southeast of the provincial capital of Regina, according to the province. McKnight said the spill has been contained in the low-lying area in which it was discovered. Ocean Man has 540 residents, one-third of whom live on the reserve, Ocean Man Chief Connie Big Eagle said.

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