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Waste motor oil identified as source of spill

Ministry of Environment spokesperson says the waste motor oil came from an oil tank at the nearby First Student school bus depot

The source of a contaminated wetland near Fort Creek has been confirmed as waste motor oil from the First Student school bus depot, says a spokesperson from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

"While the volume of the spill is unknown, we can confirm that the contamination is waste oil from a waste oil tank," said Gary Wheeler, speaking on behalf of the ministry.

A 1,360-litre tank labelled 'waste oil fluids' at the First Student depot is visible nearby the start of the spill, which was discovered Friday on a pathway and adjacent wetland.

The waste motor oil was seen on Friday running down the length of the pathway between First Student and Lafarge Canada at the end of Industrial Court A. From there, the black oil pooled in a wetland at the edge of a creek that feeds into Fort Creek.

Health Canada says when crude oil is released into the environment, a number of things can occur, including leeching into groundwater, infiltrating soil and evaporation into the air, as well as a risk of explosion. Effects on human health can include toxicological effects, as well as respiratory, gastrointestinal, skin and eye complications and some components of crude oil are known or suspected to be carcinogenic.

The City's Public Works sprang into action Friday evening into Saturday morning to bring in a large amount of earth to create a dirt berm to contain the spill. Ministry workers have been on the scene since Saturday morning to deal with it.

Wheeler said the ministry takes all spills and threats to the environment very seriously.

"Our role is to assess any environmental impacts and ensure the responsible parties eliminate any adverse effects, clean up the spill and restore the natural environment," said Wheeler. "The ministry is following up with the company and the clean-up contractor this week to ensure the spill is contained and clean-up is completed."

Wheeler said the company could face prosecution and tickets, or the ministry could offer education or voluntary action plans.

Earlier on Monday, a spokesperson for First Student said the company has been working with the city's Public Works department to address the situation since the company was made aware of it.

SooToday has sent follow-up questions to the company in light of it being named as the source of the contamination, but so far, a response has not been received.

Corrina Barrett, the Sault Ste. Marie Regional Conservation Authority general manager, told SooToday there have been no signs the contamination has entered the Fort Creek branch of the creek.

The waste motor oil was found Friday by a neighbourhood man walking through the trail and reported it to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

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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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