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ONTARIO: Fish and other wildlife affected as jet fuel from 401 crash enters local wetlands (4 photos)

The Ministry of the Environment is overseeing clean up of the jet fuel, which spilled after a tanker truck rolled over on the 401 on Sunday
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Jet fuel that spilled on the 401 at Highway 6 on Sunday has seeped into the adjacent wetlands, says the Ministry of the Environment.

Joe Johnston owns previously unspoiled land between the 401 and Concession 2 in Puslinch Township. He fell in love with Mill Creek that runs through the land when he began fishing there 40 years ago and purchased the land when it came on the market.

Johnston said the portion of the creek that runs through his 98 acres is the most important part of the system, because the trout spawn over the winter in a deep area on his property.

“The little ones have hatched or are going to be hatching. This is going to kill them all,” said Johnston. 

The creek is also home to otters, mink, ducks and a wide range of other wildlife.

Johnston said the pumper trucks began working on the problem on Monday at around noon, almost 36 hours after a tanker filled with 50,000 litres of jet fuel spilled in the early hours of Sunday morning.

“They should have been here on Sunday," said Johnston. “It’s just so upsetting.”

In a statement emailed to GuelphToday on Tuesday, MOE spokesperson Gary Wheeler said the ministry is taking the necessary steps to clean-up the site and ensuring the owners of the spilled material are aware of their responsibilities.

"The Ministry’s role is to ensure environmental impacts are properly addressed and will continue to be involved as necessary until clean-up efforts are complete," said Wheeler.

In the statement, Wheeler confirms the jet fuel entered Mill Creek and has made its way as far as Gore Road Bridge in Cambridge. The fuel has also entered Aberfoyle Creek and contaminated the soil in some of the ditches in the area of the spill.

Environmental booms have been deployed at locations along Aberfoyle Creek and deeper ocean booms are being used in Mill Creek. Environmental vacuum trucks are skimming the jet fuel off the surface of the water.

Johnston wonders if officials knew the creeks run in culverts near the crash site at the time of the collision. He is concerned that clean up efforts will not be completed before cold weather expected this weekend freezes the creek.

"It might not thaw until spring," said Johnston.

According to OPP constable Robert Knight, the spill was the result of a double tanker truck carrying 50,000 litres of jet fuel rolling over as it swerved to avoid debris from a separate collision.

"The Ministry of Environment is on scene and they're currently digging out contaminated soil from a jet fuel spill in the area. And the closures will remain in effect until the Ministry is satisfied that the soil has been successfully removed and that will be taken away for treatment."

Currently, the 401 eastbound right lane around Highway 6 north and the Highway 6 north ramp to the 401 eastbound remain closed.

Knight said he was unsure of how long it will take for the cleanup to be completed, but Johnston said he expects the environmental damage will affect local fish stocks for generations.

"(Jet fuel) clings to the rocks, so it’s going to be here for a long time. Who knows how bad it’s going to be, but it’s not going to be pleasant," he said.

—with files from KitchenerToday




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Kenneth Armstrong

About the Author: Kenneth Armstrong

Kenneth Armstrong is a news reporter and photojournalist who regularly covers municipal government, business and politics and photographs events, sports and features.
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