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Transmission line leaked coolant oil into soil, Gorge Waterway, B.C. Hydro says

After an underground line leaked 255 litres of coolant oil into Viaduct Park, a sheen was noticed on the Gorge Waterway

An underground power line leaked about 255 litres of coolant oil in Viaduct Park near the Selkirk Trestle, with some of the contaminant making its way into the Gorge Waterway.

Two orange absorbent booms are visible from the trestle.

B.C. Hydro has been on site excavating the line to repair the leak since it was first discovered on the utility’s system on Friday at 301 Gorge Road East.

Hydro spokesman Ted Olynyk said a sheen was noticed on the Gorge Waterway after Monday’s rainfall, near the trestle where Cecelia Creek spills into the Gorge , so absorbent booms were laid to catch the leaked fluid.

Olynyk had no estimate on how much of the oil got into the water.

He said Hydro use a “low-toxicity” mineral oil as a coolant on underground power lines.

The line in question runs from the Horsey substation on Topaz Avenue in Victoria to the Esquimalt substation on Devonshire Road. It goes underwater in the Gorge at Viaduct Park, lying on the bottom, and emerges on the other side at Banfield Park, according to B.C. Hydro.

There was no disruption of power.

B.C. Hydro crews had to remove a mature Garry oak tree in Viaduct Park to access the line, said Olynyk, adding the utility consulted with the City of Victoria on the tree’s removal.

Although its age isn’t known, a city representative said the Garry oak, which is on the city’s registry, measured 71 centimetres diameter at breast height.

Olynyk said B.C. Hydro’s monitoring system showed that 255 litres of oil was lost, and the line has been topped up. Crews will continue to excavate the area to remove contaminated soils and then remediate the site this week, and possibly into next week.

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