Spill cleanup at Gorge Creek could take weeks, mayor says
VICTORIA -- As crews continue to clean up a spill from a home heating oil tank into a sensitive ecosystem in Esquimalt, the mayor is pleading with people to make sure more leaks aren’t happening.
On Friday, the Township of Esquimalt found the source of an oil slick in the Gorge Creek into the Gorge Waterway.
A faulty home heating oil tank is what caused the leaking hydrocarbons, and Mayor Barb Desjardins said the person likely didn’t know they were at fault until the township asked people to check their homes.
“I think that is likely what triggered someone to take that look and say ‘Oh Dear, something is happening,'” said Desjardins.
An environmental contractor hired by the township will continue cleaning up the spill this weekend.
“The township made the decision to bring in an external contractor with a little more expertise and equipment than ourselves,” said Jeff Miller, engineer for the Township of Esquimalt.
He adds that hydrocarbons can spread out very easily.
“It can cover a lot of area with a small amount,” said Miller.
Desjardins said the amount of damage could be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
“I believe it would fairly substantial, when you look at the work having to be done and you look at the fact that we had to hire an environment specialist,” she said. “It is a financial responsibility, yes.”
The Townships of Esquimalt does have bylaw around discharging into waterways and Desjardins says council will need to sit down and discuss fines for this incident.
“This cleanup will continue potentially for another two weeks,” she said. “just to make sure everything is dealt with.”
Many people at the Gorge Waterway say they were disappointed to see the amount of damage.
“It’s sad,” said Ngaire Rathgaber. “My mom and my daughter come down here all the time, seeing the park like this is really sad.”
Another person expressed concern over the number of birds in the park. Desjardins is asking anyone who sees an animal in distress to call the BC SPCA's Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre.
“If there are animals in distress we will be all over that with bringing in more help,” she said.