Terrace Bay oil spill leads to municipal investigation

Have you checked your fuel and propane lines lately?

On Jan. 28, firefighters with Terrace Bay Fire and Emergency Services and officials from the public works department attended the scene of a major oil spill at a residence – where it was discovered that more than 70 gallons of heating oil leaked from a tank into the sanitary sewer via a floor drain.

Public works and the fire department determined the cause was “an old fuel line, stopped with a simple valve,” according to a report from chief administrative officer, Jonathan Hall, shared with municipal council on Feb. 5.

Representatives from the Spills Action Centre (SAC), the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), and the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) were contacted to further investigate the scene and advise municipal officials about next steps including clean-up.

The township contacted and secured an environmental clean-up contractor who attended the site on Feb. 1. The cost of the contractor’s services will be included in the 2024 budget.

However, as Hall noted in his report, “long-lasting, detrimental effects to the sanitary collection system, the sedimentation tanks and sewage lagoons are not anticipated but ultimately unknown at this time.”

Though council accepted Hall’s report for the most part, Coun. Rick St. Louis questioned whether or not there might be a way for the township to recover some of the costs related to clean-up – through insurance or other funding.

Hall noted that while such insurance does exist, it only applies to spills or environmental damages caused by the township.

Officials will continue to monitor the situation based on advice from OCWA and MECP.