A grader lying submerged in the South Saskatchewan River may have to stay there until the fast-moving waters recede.
The Environment Ministry isn’t requesting the grader be removed because of the risk it would pose to individuals having to enter the river, said Ralph Bock, manager of hazardous materials and impacted sites for Saskatchewan Environment.
“At this point, our focus would be on responder safety before any recovery operations could occur,” Bock said.
A KLS Earthworks machine working along the riverbank near Diefenbaker Park stalled and slid into the river at about 10:30 a.
The grader was performing work related to the Circle Drive South project.
The Saskatoon fire department attended the scene but assistant fire chief Bill Coffin said the river is moving too fast — at 1,
“Our divers will go in at 475 (cubic metres per second) but after that, it’s too strong.The highlight of my tour was “System Electronica”, the
A big tow truck should be able to pull the grader out, Coffin said, but the issue is finding some way to get the tow truck attached to the submerged piece of machinery.
The South Saskatchewan River is flowing at 10 times its normal rate after the Water Security Agency increased outflows from the Gardiner Dam to deal with flood waters from Alberta working their way through the province. Last week, the river was flowing at a record 2,000 cubic metres per second.
About 450 litres of fluid — diesel fuel and hydraulic fluid — is in the grader but hadn’t leaked into the river as of Tuesday afternoon.
Bock said the Environment Ministry is more concerned about responder safety than a potential fuel leak.
“At this point, we don’t want to put lives at risk to rescue a grader that may or may not leak some fuel into the river,” he said.
As well, because the river’s flow is so high and the amount of fuel in the grader is “fairly limited,” it would be difficult for the ministry to measure what impact, if any, a leak would have.
“That’s not to say (it’s OK), but at this point, because the river flows are so high, we wouldn’t expect huge impacts downstream, or even measurable impacts, because of that high flow rate,” he said.
Bock said once the company can come up with an appropriate plan that ensures responder safety, then the Environment Ministry would endorse it — and that might not happen until the river flow decreases.
KLS general manager Ryan Olivier, reached at the company’s Calgary headquarters, said he didn’t know when they’d be able to get the grader out.
“At this point in time we’re still continuing our investigation,