During Monday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Fire Chief Chesebrough debriefed council on Thursday night’s diesel spill in Smiths Falls when approximately 100 litres of diesel fuel was accidentally released into the basin.
Early on Thursday evening, the Smiths Falls Fire Department received a call that there was a strong smell of diesel and a sheen on the water. The Fire Department immediately deployed booms into the water to protect the spillway and absorb the diesel fuel that had spilled into the water.
While the Fire Dept took action to contain the spill, Chief Chesebrough immediately notified the Spills Action Centre, Parks Canada, the Ministry of Environment, and Le Boat, which owns the vessel that was spilling diesel. Le Boat contacted Tomlinson Environmental to assess the situation Thursday night, and Tomlinson returned Friday morning to commence clean-up efforts.
Chief Chesebrough stressed that “at no time was the municipal water supply contaminated or concerned;” and the spillway was protected. Tomlinson monitored the lower basin, and detected no sign of contaminant spilling through.
Tomlinson vacuumed the spilled diesel all day Friday and Saturday; reassessed the situation Sunday, and returned Monday to complete the clean-up.
“Quick action was able to contain the spill,” commented Chesebrough, “thanks to a very aggressive approach by both the town and Tomlinson Environmental.”
Councillor Nikki Dwyer asked what steps were being taken to ensure this would be prevented in future, “What sort of accountability or review will entail from here?”
Chief Chesebrough outlined that as far as the town is concerned, “our responsibility is to contain if possible, and report to Spills Action Centre.” They will investigate the company that was involved and take action if necessary. Chesebrough shared that Le Boat’s operations manager has reported that they will outfit their boats with booms and socks, in case something like this ever happens again. They will also be taking steps ensuring that all of their staff is well versed in preventing and containing this sort of incident.
Le Boat’s fleet of cruising vessels recently returned to the basin after wintering in dry dock. A water line inadvertently placed into a diesel tank caused the 100-litre spill.
Councillor McKenna commended the Chief for keeping the town informed throughout the situation. “Communication was exceptional on this; it got out early and often and we appreciate this.”