One of the companies brought in to test water sampled downstream from where 250,000 litres of crude oil leaked last month from a Husky Oil pipeline into Saskatchewan, has been criticized in the past for a “troubling pattern” of obscure methods and downplaying environmental risk, the National Observer reports.
The Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (CTEH) “is part of Husky’s technical working group charged with determining ‘current and ongoing risks to aquatic life,’ along with various engineers, toxicologists, and environmental and public health specialists,” the Observer writes.
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In 2010, however, the New York Times reported in a “scathing article” that CTEH became prominent in the service field after analysing environmental impacts for corporate clients in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, a toxic coal ash spill in Tennessee, and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. The Times’ investigation found that “CTEH has regularly failed to release a complete portfolio of data from its studies, which tends to work in its clients’ favour,” the Observer notes.
The outlet adds that Husky has refused to answer its requests “for information on the methodology of its water quality testing, the timeline of the spill’s detection, and when such data might be made available to the public.”
University of Quebec Rimouski water chemist Émilien Pelletier called the lack of information worrisome. “It’s a basic scientific requirement,” he told the Observer. “They should provide all the details on how they get the samples, how they analyze it, and what the limits they should comply with are.”
Without that information, Pelletier said he and other independent scientists cannot make confident statements about the scale of the spill, or the real progress of clean-up efforts.
According to the Observer, a CTEH spokesperson contested the New York Times report in an email, stating that “in conjunction with our partners on the ground, as well as local, provincial and federal government agencies, CTEH’s scientists work with the highest level of scientific integrity and transparency to protect the public and the environment.”
The July spill at one point left 50,000 people without clean water.
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