Crews in Esquimalt are keeping a close eye on a storm drain after oil from a leaky home-heating tank seeped into the system and entered the West Bay Marina.
Curtis Kirkpatrick, a maintenance man at the marina, first noticed an oily substance on the water about a week ago, and started receiving complaints from residents about a nasty smell. He tracked the slick to a nearby storm drain, where he saw a “significant amount” of oil coming into the marina.
Now that the water in the marina is frozen, the oil has become stuck in the ice, causing Kirkpatrick and area residents concern for the birds and marine life.
“You can see the oil all floating around. A lot of it is contained in the ice that’s frozen in the marina so as soon as things start to melt, that oil is going to start to move,” said Kirkpatrick, noting the marina is a nursery for millions of baby fish and migrating birds. “It’s a delicate environment. It’s very unfortunate that this happened and very disappointing.”
Township crews have responded to the spill, installing booms and absorbent pads to contain and clean up as much oil as possible.
Jeff Miller, director of engineering and public works, said crews managed to track the substance to a home-heating oil tank in a residential neighbourhood. The homeowner realized they had a leak and has since put in a new tank. Crews, however, continue to work with the homeowner to ensure the leak has stopped and assess how much oil spilled onto the property.
Miller isn’t sure exactly how much oil leaked into the storm drain system, but estimates there’s at least a litre or two.
“It’s still a work in progress. The thing is we know where it’s coming from and it’s being controlled,” said Miller, noting the incident is a good reminder for home owners to check their oil tanks and make sure they’re in good shape.
“We have concern when something enters the storm system that’s not supposed to be there. Whether it’s heating oil, transmission oil, gasoline or soap suds, it’s not supposed to be there and it’s not good for the environment.”
In November 2015, kerosene spilled into the mouth of Gorge Creek at the end of Sioux Place, which took crews a few weeks to clean up. The source was traced back to the vicinity of Colville Road and Carrie Street and determined to be a one-time illegal discharge into a manhole. A notification was sent to area residents reminding them to have home heating units inspected for leaks.