| Sep 21, 2006


Feature Article - September 21, 2006

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Feature Article - September 21, 2006

Authorities keep working on Harrowsmith oil spill

by Jeff Green and Ann Elvins

Officials with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MoE) are continuing to monitor an oil spill in the village of Harrowsmith .

Christine Brown, of the MoE’s Kingston Office, said this week that the spill appears to have been caused by a residential fuel oil tank, sending oil onto the basement floor, and into a storm water ditch into Wilton Creek.”

The matter has sparked an OPP investigation.

“We are investigating the possibility of mischief. It looks like someone intentionally tampered with the oil tank. We suspect that might have happened,” said Sgt. Glenn Fowler of the South Frontenac OPP detachment.

Fowler warned, however, that it “could be weeks before we interview all of the people who are involved. It will be a difficult case to solve.”

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In terms of remediation measures, Christine Brown said that the contaminated catch basin has been vacuumed up, and that there have been absorbent booms and pads placed in adjacent Wilton Creek to soak up any oil that remains. In terms of further remediation, Brown said that any impacted soils around the house will have to be dealt with.

By legislation, the cost of this remediation goes to the owner of the contaminant, according to Christine Brown.

Subsequent to talking to Christine Brown, the News has learned that residents in a property two doors down from the source of the contamination were aware of the spill for at least a week before the MoE was called, but since no one was living in the house, they didn’t know who to call.

The oil spill is of concern because of its implications downstream as well as in Harrowsmith.

The Wilton Creek watershed begins somewhere northeast of Sydenham. Its tributaries flow into the Bay of Quinte , a part of Lake Ontario that is an area of concern under the Great Lake Water Quality Agreement because of excessive nutrients, loss of wetlands, contaminated sediments and bacteria In March of 2006 the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority issued a press release asking residents of Wilton Creek properties to participate in a stewardship program.

According to Holly Evans, Environmental Technician at the Cataraqui Region Conversation Authority, the Wilton Creek Association, the Lennox and Addington and Frontenac Stewardship Councils, Ducks Unlimited and the CRCA have pooled resources to make a difference on a local scale. She states that “one of the most effective ways to improve the health of the bay is to improve the quality of the water that flows into it. Simple projects like planting trees and shrubs along streams, fixing erosion problems and implementing agricultural best management practices can make a big difference.”

Sometimes an “unfortunate event” of the sort that happened this week in our own backyard forces us to look at the bigger picture.

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