Residents alert crews to fuel leak at Bowker Creek

Old oil tanks blamed for spills at Bowker Creek and Gorge Waterway

Routine reporting from residents altered the Oak Bay Fire Department to fuel leaking into Bowker Creek.

Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen said he had many residents call and email about the sheen and odour near Oak Bay Recreation, where the fire department found the sheen of oil in the waters of Bowker on Jan. 5.

“They found a very slight amount of oil up near the back of the rec centre,” said deputy fire chief Tom Pearse. “They followed it upstream and determined it was on the other side of the border there and notified Saanich.”

Saanich Public Works noticed a strong diesel smell in the area and installed booms in the creek near Mortimer Street. It was very difficult to find the source of the oil due to the high flows of the creek mostly contained in a piped system. Saanich crews estimate that they lifted more than 50 manhole covers looking for the source of the fuel located late the next day more than three kilometres from the Saanich-Oak Bay boundary. An outdoor home heating oil tank was leaking into the perimeter drain that leads to Bowker Creek. Saanich installed a siphon dam to keep fuel on the property. The oil tank was pumped out and booms placed in manholes to protect Bowker Creek, a process that was already in place in Oak Bay.

“There was quite a concern, it’s good that people are making those observations so the emergency co-ordination crew can react,” Jensen said. “The fire department reacted very quickly to set up booms.”

“As a preventative measure, our guys put out an absorbent boom where the creek goes under the walkway to catch any bit of oil that was coming down,” Pearse said.

A second spill was discovered Jan. 6 after Saanich Fire noticed an oil sheen in the Gorge Waterway. Saanich crews quickly located a contaminated outlet that would normally contain only storm water and installed a boom to contain the product from spreading into the Gorge Waterway. From there staff lifted manholes to trace the sheen back to a Walter Street home approximately half a kilometre from the Gorge. The crew dug up the drain house connection at the property line and installed a siphon dam to contain the product on the property. It is believed that the fuel is coming from an old underground home heating oil storage tank.

Saanich Public Works are confident that no more product will leave either property and plan to continue the cleanup until the private property owner hires a professional to complete the work. Saanich will continue to monitor the cleanup until it is considered complete.

Unknown old heating fuel tanks continue to be a concern where waterways are concerned, but it’s difficult to know where they all are, Jensen said.

“Efforts have been made to locate them,” the mayor said. “We like to think in Oak Bay we know where every one is, but one never knows.”

Residents are encouraged to report the smell or sight of possible contamination of waterways either to the fire department or Oak Bay public works.

“We definitely encourage anyone to report anything like that in the creek,” Pearse said. “We will investigate and see if we can identify a source and take steps to contain it.”

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Almost four of 10 Canadians have unlimited internet data at home

Fifty-four per cent say they telecommute at least sometimes

New Carnarvon Park field-house could cost $4.3M

Both tennis and pickleball courts are included in new draft plan

Esquimalt needs urgent health care facility, mayor says

A severe doctor shortage is leaving Esquimalt residents scrambling for health care

Student Voice: Saanich students launch competitive robotics team

The Reynolds Reybots plan to share their skills with middle schools

What are the worst parking spots in Victoria?

We are looking for the worst places in the city to park and need your opinion

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

Burnaby byelection turmoil sparks debate about identity issues in politics

The Liberals still have not said whether they plan to replace Wang, who stepped aside Wednesday

Most Read