Soil tests at diesel spill site
Councillor’s criticism fuelled by handling of incident in east end four years ago.
a spill of diesel fuel at the tisdale public works shop four years ago means the city has to do some new soil testing.
the issue has also caused concern for one city council member who remembers the spill and said a city supervisor acted irresponsibly the night it happened.
the matter was returned to council this week with a request for $18,640 to do soil tests at the tisdale shop located on evans Street, next to porcupine lake.
the issue came under scrutiny from Coun. Walter Wawrzaszek, a former public works employee from the tisdale Shop, who put the question to city environmental services manager Scott tam.
“So why are we are we doing this technical Standards Safety authority request for the city?”
tam said the request is to address some concerns put forward by the tssa with regards to a diesel spill that occurred in 2013 in the yard at the tisdale shop, and the subsequent clean-up that was carried out.
according to tam’s report a heavy equipment vehicle struck the fuel dispenser tank in the city yard one night and broke off a valve. it resulted in a quantity of fuel spilling onto the ground.
“i know some time has passed, but we’re just honouring tssa’s request now to complete some outstanding requirements that they just recently recognized,” said tam.
Wawrzaszek asked how many gallons of fuel were spilled.
“i don’t have the exact amount on me, but there was enough that it was immediately noticed,” said tam.
“it wasn’t the entire tank but it was just a fraction of the tank, we’ll say,” tam continued.
he said the spill occurred in winter and the diesel fuel was contained with the help of sand and snow to prevent any of it from entering any waterways nearby. a creek runs along the north and east sides of the public works property toward porcupine lake.
“luckily in our favour the ground was frozen. So it (diesel) doesn’t penetrate deep into the ground. So from that point on we basically excavated what we could to the water table and then we are this point now where we have to do some additional sampling,” said tam.
“So when this happened that night, where did the diesel fuel spill into? did it spill into the creek?” Wawrzaszek asked.
“No it was prevented. it was stopped. again, we used some winter sand to create berms to contain it, all close within the vicinity of the tank,” tam answered.
Wawrzaszek disputed that explanation with his next comment.
“i happened to be working that night. i happened to go in the back yard because i was working overtime. this diesel fuel was spilling in the creek. it was all over the place,” said Wawrzaszek. he added that the fuel did go into a nearby ditch.
Wawrzaszek also wanted to know if the incident was reported to the Ontario ministry of the environment.
tam said yes it was because when he arrived at the scene the next morning, he saw a representative of the environmental ministry there along with a person from tssa.
“Why wasn’t it reported that night?” Wawrzaszek asked.
tam said from his information, he knew the incident was reported the next morning.
“it was reported that night to a supervisor, and the supervisor didn’t bother to come out,” Wawrzaszek claimed.
“i can’t speak for that,” said tam.
“i can speak to that because i was there and i found that irresponsible for a supervisor not to come out of his house and look after that spill,” he said.
Wawrzaszek said he was disappointed with the lack of supervision and that no one took authority that night to do anything about the spilled fuel.
“all they did was leave it spill into the creek. it went into porcupine lake and it was all over the yard. Sand was all over the yard that night and it leached out through the sand and into the creek and stuff. i know. i was there,” said Wawrzaszek.
he asked if there wasn’t any sort of policy for responding to such incidents.
“We have created policy, after than fact, just to reiterate the fact that we have internal staff and expertise to deal with stuff like that,” said tam.
Wawrzaszek said the city should produce a report on why the incident was not followed up that night.
“this is irresponsible not to follow up a spill like this,” he told council.
Coun. Noella rinaldo asked if it was normal to wait four years to request additional testing.
tam said it was not normal, but added he had challenged previous requests but eventually gave in when he became aware that additional testing would still have to be done.
he said the testing would help out the city in the long run for when any decision is made on what to do with the property when city employees eventually move out into to occupy the new public works shop on King Street in porcupine.
there were no further questions or comments from city council.
City Coun. Walter Wawrzaszek expressed disappointment this week at the way the city handled a diesel fuel spill four years ago at the Tisdale public works yard on Evans Street. Wawrzaszek was a public works employee at the time. The issue was returned to city council this week because Ontario’s Technical Standards Safety Authority has asked the city to carry out soil testing in the public works yard to satisfy a contamination management plan.
Street view of the Tisdale public works yard on Evans Street in South Porcupine.