Soil tests at diesel spill site

Coun­cil­lor’s crit­i­cism fu­elled by han­dling of in­ci­dent in east end four years ago.

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - NEWS - LEN GILLIS

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.

LEN GILLIS / The Daily Press

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.

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