Crews from Saanich public works set up a containment boom on the Colquitz River

Crews from Saanich public works set up a containment boom on the Colquitz River

Heating oil spill contaminates Colquitz River Park

While the amount of heating oil that leaked is unknown, Saanich says none of it appears to have flowed into the river

  • Dec. 13, 2013 12:00 p.m.

A home heating oil spill on the bank of the Colquitz River was caught Thursday night before the oil reached the salmon-bearing stream.

Mike Ippen, Saanich’s manager of public works, says the spill was discovered Thursday afternoon when a passerby in Colquitz River Park could smell a strong odour of oil and notified Saanich.

Public works crews traced the spill back to a home in the 3400-block of Rolston Cres., which sits on a hill just above the creek.

“We worked late into the night putting containment in place, so oil never actually got into the Colquitz. It’s just in the soil,” Ippen said.

A long containment boom, as well as absorbent pads and siphon dams have been set up, and Saanich will continue to monitor them over the coming days.

“If it rains, we want to make sure that anything that bleeds through the soil will be captured before it gets to the river,” he said.

The leak came as a result of a broken supply line between a home heating tank and a furnace.

The homeowner, who declined to speak to the News, has hired a private contractor to do remediation work. The company that supplies the fuel is also working to determine just how much oil leaked into the soil.

“We think it was a slight drip, but over a few days it just emptied the tank,” Ippen said.

The Colquitz watershed is no stranger to oil spills. Since 2011 there have been at least eight oil spills that contaminated the creek, including an 1,100 litre home heating oil spill in November 2011 and a mineral oil leak from a B.C. Hydro line last year.

Thursday’s leak contaminated parkland on the direct opposite creek bank that B.C. Hydro had excavated earlier this year, in a project that removed 850 tons of earth soiled from a low-toxicity oil surrounding a transmission cable.

It’s not known yet if the creek will be subjected to another soil excavation project.

Less than a kilometre down the creek from the location of the contaminated soil, stream stewards monitor the health of the Colquitz and count the number of salmon returning in the fall and winter to spawn.

A record year, so far more than 1,250 salmon have passed through the fish fence this fall to head upstream to spawn.

Ippen says Saanich crews will continue to monitor the situation, but they’ve handed cleanup duties to the contractor. Workers will be removing vegetation and conducting soil samples to ensure remediation is done.

For information on how to better protect yourself from a home heating oil spill, visit

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover using piece made at Kennametal’s Langford site

The Greater Victoria plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

A provincially appointed consultant has recommended a change to the funding formula for the VicPD that will save Esquimalt a significant amount of money. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt to save a bundle on policing costs under new formula

Provincial consultant studied funding model, resource deployment for VicPD

A rockfall closed Finlayson Arm Road and West Shore Parkway on Friday (March 5) afternoon. (Twitter/BC Transportation)
UPDATED: Malahat reopens following rockfall

Section of Trans-Canada Highway was scheduled for intermittent closures today for rock scaling work

A Victoria resident was scammed out of $1,700 after a fraudster impersonated a police officer and convinced the victim to pay a non-existent fine in Bitcoin. (Unsplash)
Fraudster impersonates Victoria police officer, steals $1,700 in Bitcoin

Phone call showed up as VicPD’s non-emergency line

The Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tsartlip First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA revealed COVID-19 outbreak

Chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA Adam Olsen apologizes

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

Most Read