School board taken to court
East Ferris seeking $622,983.83 over alleged oil spill
The Municipality of East Ferris has taken the Nipissing Parry Sound Catholic District School Board to court for $622,983.83.
According documents obtained from the Canadian Legal Information Institute, the case is currently before the provincial Environmental Review Tribunal and is scheduled to resume Oct. 17.
The claim relates to an alleged heating oil spill from underground storage tanks at the former St. Theresa School on Corbeil Road.
David Germain, the municipality’s lawyer, said the school board removed the tanks in or about August 2000. East Ferris purchased the former school in 2009.
“Upon demolition of the school in late 2012, oil had been discovered in a septic tank and in surrounding soil,” Germain claimed during a pre-hearing conference on Aug. 21.
He also claimed the oil plume is moving slowly away from the site.
Germain told the tribunal East Ferris has spent $622,983.83 on various activities related to the spill, including delineation work, a test pitting and monitoring program, surface and ground water sampling, well water sampling and development of plans for the remediation of contaminated groundwater and soil.
He said many of these activities are ongoing and expenses will continue to incur. However, East Ferris doesn’t have the resources to conduct the necessary remediation work.
Mayor Bill Vrebosch said the municipality has taken the initiative to clean up the operation.
“We’re doing remediation attempts. We’ve had two or three meetings and immediately tested every (water) well in the area. We are also monitoring the area,” he said.
“We’ve brought engineers in and have done forensic testing.”
Emails sent to the school board were not returned by press time.
according to court documents, the school board contends it was not the owner, or in management or control of the oil at the time of the spill, and did not cause or contribute to the spill and any environmental impact.
the hearing will be conducted in two phases.
the first will determine whether the school board was the owner or had control of the heating oil immediately before the spill. the second, if necessary, will address the costs incurred by east Ferris.