School board taken to court

East Fer­ris seek­ing $622,983.83 over al­leged oil spill

North Bay Nugget - - NORTH BAY NUGGET - Jen­nifer Hamil­ton-mccHarles

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.

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