Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, Rod Phillips, said as the ice and snow are thawing his ministry is closely watching any possible effect on wildlife because of the tanker truck full of jet fuel that spilled in January.During a government announcement in Cambridge on Wednesday, Phillips was asked by GuelphToday about the state of the clean up efforts.
Phillips, who heads the Ontario government’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MOE), said the crews are still working on the clean up as warmer temperatures are forecasted, which will cause the ice and snow to thaw. The temperature on Thursday is expected to reach 13 degrees Celsius.
“There had been some reports initially about some issues that affected wildlife,” said Phillips. “So far the Ministry of Environment scientists and the spills action team haven’t been able to confirm any of that, but we are monitoring it constantly and very aware as the weather fluctuates, of the need to make sure we are protecting wildlife.”
Mill Creek and Aberfoyle Creek became contaminated sometime after the rollover of a double tanker carrying between 40,000 and 50,000 litres of jet fuel occurred in the early morning hours on Jan. 13.
On Jan. 18, MOE staff reported that jet fuel odours were observed as far away as Shades Mill Reservoir in Cambridge. This despite an earlier statement by the ministry that said there had been no impact to Shade’s Mill Conservation Area.
The discovery of jet fuel odours resulted in Grand River Conservation Authority announcing there will be no ice fishing this season at Shade's Mill Conservation Area.
Phillips said the company responsible for the spill has so far been fulfilling its obligation to assist with the clean up.
“We have had Ministry of the Environment teams working with the cleanup crews. We had several booms that have been put in place in regard to the thaw,” said Phillips.
Asked about the almost two day delay in having environmental boom placed in the creek systems that run underneath the 401 where the spill occurred, Phillips said the MOE and clean up crews had to work deal with the spill site before moving on to deal with its after effects.
“Our team assesses the immediate concern, in terms of looking at the area,” said Phillips. “They then moved out from the site of the spill to assess the threat. Be assured we are watching, especially with the thaw,” he said.