Two Saanich oil tank spills impact Bowker Creek, Gorge Waterway

Jan. 5 and 6 oil tank spills leave crews in Oak Bay, Saanich scrambling to find sources

  • Jan. 8, 2015 8:00 a.m.

Two home heating oil tank leaks found their way into Bowker Creek and the Gorge Waterway this week, as Saanich public works crews scrambled to find the source of the oil.

On the evening of Jan. 5, Saanich received a call from Oak Bay fire crews about an oil sheen and strong smell of diesel fuel on Bowker Creek near Mortimer Street. Booms were installed in that area, but finding the source of the leak proved difficult.

“Crews estimate they lifted over 50 manhole covers looking for the source of the fuel,” said Harley Machielse, Saanich director of engineering, in a statement.

It took about 24 hours before the source was discovered at a home on Kisber Avenue, nearly three kilometres from the site of the Bowker Creek booms. An outdoor home heating oil tank was leaking and flowing into the perimeter drain that leads to Bowker Creek. Engineering crews installed a siphon dam at the property line to stop fuel from leaving the property, and the oil tank was pumped out. Booms have been placed in nearby manholes to protect Bowker Creek, Machielse said.

On the morning of Jan. 6, another oil sheen was called in by Saanich Fire Department along the Gorge Waterway. In that case, public works crews quickly found a storm water drain that was carrying the oil and traced the leak to a home on Walter Street, about half a kilometre away 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,” Maschielse said. It is believed the fuel originated from an old underground home heating oil storage tank.

Maschielse said the District is confident that no more product will leave the concerned properties. Crews will continue the clean up until private property owners hires a professional to complete the work, he added.

In both of these cases, the Provincial Emergency Program was contacted. Residents are cautioned to keep pets out of spill areas and are encouraged to continue to report spills immediately. A temporary sign has been installed at Gorge Park near Admirals Road informing residents to keep out of the water.

editor@saanichnews.com