A photo of the excavated area at McLean Mill at the end of the rail line, taken on Dec. 16, 2020. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

A photo of the excavated area at McLean Mill at the end of the rail line, taken on Dec. 16, 2020. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Port Alberni offers $10,000 for information about McLean Mill oil spill

Costs for the cleanup of the site have reached more than $1 million

The City of Port Alberni is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for an oil spill at McLean Mill National Historic Site.

During the week of Oct. 26, 2020, a rail tank car on the property was found to be leaking bunker oil in the rail yard. City staff have stated that the spill was caused by a locked valve that had been “intentionally” opened on the tank car.

“It wasn’t a case of an environmental situation or an act of God that would have opened those valves,” said director of parks, recreation and heritage Willa Thorpe during a December 2020 council meeting.

Costs for the cleanup of the site have reached more than $1 million.

The Port Alberni RCMP is actively investigating the incident, and the city is now offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person (or people) responsible for the spill.

READ MORE: No environmental risk from oil spill at McLean Mill, says consultant

Gaylene Thorogood, Port Alberni manager of community safety, admitted that it is unusual for the city to offer such a reward.

“Council has decided that [the spill] was a significant cost to taxpayers to clean up,” said Thorogood. “They want to pursue the person or persons responsible and seek recovery costs associated with that.”

The reward will come out of the city’s contingency fund, but Thorogood said the hope is that the city will be able to recover that cost with the arrest and conviction of the individual[s] responsible for the incident.

“This is a big step we’re taking, and we’re hoping it will lead to more info,” said Thorogood. “We also want to send a message to people that we’re going to hold you accountable if you damage city property.”

If you have information that could help solve this file, please call the Port Alberni RCMP non-emergency line at 250-723-2424 and reference Police File Number 2020-12134.

Thorogood said that in order to qualify for the city’s reward, tips cannot be anonymous.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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