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Black oily mess near Fort Creek concerns neighbour

The smelly substance has engulfed a walking trail and has made its way into a wetland that leads into Fort Creek

8:11 p.m. update: City workers and firefighters are now on scene setting up environmental boom to contain the apparent contamination.

Original story below:

A black oily substance with a rainbow sheen appears to have contaminated a piece of land between two businesses on Industrial Court A that has been used as a walking trail for years and nearby resident Lou Salvalaggio is concerned the substance is inching ever closer to Fort Creek and its fragile ecosystem.

Salvalaggio discovered the mess while walking on a trail between Lafarge and the First Student bus depot, both located on Industrial Crescent A. He has lived in the area for over 40 years and said many residents, including neighbourhood kids, use the trail as a shortcut.

"It smells like diesel fuel and seems to be unattended," said Salvalaggio of the apparent spill. "It's not a just tank of gas or diesel fuel, this is significant."

The substance is currently hitching a ride with the runoff from melted snow, travelling a few hundred feet into a marshy area behind the two businesses. About 20 metres from the extreme edge of the visible black substance is a separate body of running water that is either a part of Fort Creek, or leads directly into it.

"I don't know who is at fault here, but it clearly needs to be cleaned up," Salvalaggio.

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has been notified but not yet responded to calls for comment.

Reached by email on Friday, City of Sault Ste. Marie spokesperson Tessa Vecchio said Spills Action Ontario is usually contacted through the MOE.

"They would then contact our Community Emergency Management Coordinator. We have not received any information pertaining to this," she said.

SooToday reached an operator at First Student late on Friday, but was told no one was available to speak about the matter until Monday. The school bus company has a facility nearby.

Salvalaggio said he is concerned action on cleaning up the apparent spill will be delayed because it is being reported on a Friday.

"I have no idea how long it's been there, it could have been there all winter for all I know," said Salvalaggio.

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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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