An underground oil tank was the source of a small spill that leaked into Swan Creek and the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary, a Saanich municipal manager says.
The leak, which was reported Jan. 11 by sanctuary staff, was traced back to a tank in a yard on Easter Road at Saanich Road, said Ben Bowker, Saanich’s manager of storm and wastewater.
The municipality dug up and plugged drains at that property line to prevent further leakage, while the homeowner hired a company to pump out and remove the tank and do remediation work, Bowker said.
Less than 30 litres of oil was collected with absorbent booms. Sanctuary grasses and bushes will absorb and “eat up” the remainder, Bowker said.
“There’s a balancing act between what’s reasonable to do as far as remediation,” he said, given that more damage can be caused by removal than by letting nature take its course.
There have been no reports of affected wildlife.
A factsheet on the Saanich website notes that “one cup of fuel oil can contaminate enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.”
Ministry of Environment staff were onsite Wednesday. When they are satisfied, the equipment will be removed.
“Hopefully, we’ll see an end to it in the next couple of weeks,” Bowker said.
No costs have yet been estimated, but they will be the responsibility of the homeowner, he said.
The public has become more aware that oil in the water is a bad sign. “People are reporting it right away, and that allows us to track them down and deal with them,” Bowker said.
Saanich recorded 28 incidents in 2012 that involved contaminants such as diesel and home-heating oil spilling into Blenkinsop Creek, Colquitz River and the Gorge Waterway. Only a dozen spills were reported in the municipality from 2004 to 2011.
On Dec. 8, a home-heating-oil spill spread a sheen on Blenkinsop Creek, which drains into Swan Lake, after heavy equipment used in a house demolition on Cedar Hill Cross Road apparently punctured a buried oil tank in the yard.
Another spill was reported Dec. 6 after oil leaked from Gina Dolinksy’s yard into the Gorge Waterway.
The Adelaide Avenue homeowner was on the hook for cleanup costs until a contractor using ground penetrating radar discoverd that the source of the spill was an abandoned oil tank on a neighbouring property. The owner was using electricity to heat his house and was not even aware of the buried tank.
© Copyright 2013