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Two more fuel spills leave two Saanich waterways polluted

Another oil spill – presumed to be from a leaking home heating tank – has caused yet another environmental disaster, as a large sheen was discovered Saturday on Blenkinsop Creek.

The source is believed to be an underground tank on a property on Cedar Hill Cross Road near Blenkinsop Road. The home was being demolished and it appears the homeowner had no idea there was a buried tank on the property.

"Right now we're containing it, or trying to contain it, within the Blenkinsop Creek. We have booms and pads out," said Ben Bowker, manager of Saanich's storm and water water section. "We're just trying to minimize the impact to the Swan Lake sanctuary."

Ian Bruce, with the Peninsula Streams Society, says it's not known how much oil spilled, but said some did make its way to Swan Lake.

For the sake of the environment and for the sake of homeowners' wallets, oil companies should be more co-operative with the municipality to help them locate buried oil tanks, he said.

"I'm disappointed that (spills are) still happening, but I'm not surprised," Bruce said.

Bowker, too, says these types of incidents where there is an unknown tank hiding on a property is leaving homeowners in a tough position. "They don't end with a happy ending. We certainly feel horrible for these private homeowners that have no idea that this is in their yard," he said.

Last week a spill was discovered on the Colquitz River, too.

Bowker says the substance was tested and deemed to be diesel fuel, possibly from a vehicle.

"We didn't confirm it to a specific location or connection to a home," he said of the spill, discovered in the afternoon of Dec. 5 behind Tillicum Centre. "We don't see any more product coming out, either."

Siphon dams and absorbent material remain at the outlet just prior to entering the creek to capture any residual diesel that may come out – particularly in the event of a heavy rainfall.

The Colquitz has been hit with at least three other spills in the last year, including two large home heating tank spills in November 2011 and February 2012, and the leakage of mineral oil from a B.C. Hydro power cable last month.

Bowker commented that his crews have never had to respond to so many oil spills in such a short amount of time.

"We haven't seen this trend in the past," he said, "and the hope is that it will subside soon."

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

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