Power line liquid leaking into Colquitz River

A sheen of oil found on Colquitz River last week likely leaked from underground high-voltage power cables, says B.C. Hydro.

A sheen of oil found on Colquitz River this week likely leaked from underground high-voltage power cables, says B.C. Hydro.

There is a “high likelihood” the substance is mineral oil used as insulation around the cables, B.C. Hydro spokesperson Ted Olynyk said on Friday, rather than home heating oil or some other contaminant.

Mineral oil is petroleum based, but Olynyk said it has extremely low toxicity and isn’t harmful to fish or other wildlife. The volume that escaped was extremely low, he said, a couple of litres per day.

“We’re talking a few days, dripping once every two or three seconds. It does add up, but its a very small amount,” he said.

B.C. Hydro crews took over responsibility for cleanup from Saanich public works on Friday and planned to conduct repairs, monitor the creek over the weekend, and see if any soil remediation also needs to take place. “Saanich has done a fantastic job with containment,” Olynyk said.

Saanich public works crew found a sheen on the water around noon Wednesday linked to, at the time, an unknown liquid leaking from the roadside bank near Interurban Road and Columbine Way. In what has become an all-to-often sight on the Colquitz, absorbent booms straddled the river and sawdust lined the river bank.

Mike Ippen, Saanich’s director of public works said crews are checking the booms daily to ensure the spill is fully contained, and to monitor whether more material is getting into the watershed.

“Hopefully the weather’s going to co-operate for a bit so we don’t get high velocities and flows down there,” he said.

Saanich is especially sensitive about spills into the Colquitz and has stepped up monitoring in the wake of several high-profile disasters over the past 12 months.

On Feb. 23 of this year, an estimated 630 litres of heating oil spilled into the Colquitz. Nearly a year ago, on Nov. 25, 2011, more than 1,000 litres leaked into the river from a home oil tank.

Ippen says the oil spills of last winter have improved the public works department’s effectiveness in responding to reports of spills on the Colquitz.

“Mostly what we’ve done on that watershed is we hunted down some of the culverts that got grown over and cleared (vegetation) away. When we have a report of material in the Colquitz or any of the tributaries we can chase it down faster now, and help isolate where it’s coming from,” Ippen said.

Chris Bos, who volunteers as a steward for the Colquitz, says he gives major kudos to Saanich crews for finding the source when they did.

“We think it’s been going on for a while. There’s been an annoying amount of little bits of (material in the water) for a while now,” he said. “The fact that it could be getting worse, finding it now is good.”

As of last week, only 70 coho have swam up the Colquitz, through the fish fence Bos and his fellow stream stewards use to monitor returning salmon during spawning season. Based on significantly higher numbers coming from Goldstream and Craigflower fish counts, there should be more, Bos said.

“I’m a little suspicious what’s going on. It may be because we’ve got a couple seals in the lower river. There’s family of otters, too. But if there’s this oil event, that could also be the reason why (the number of coho is low),” he said.

“We are proud of Colquitz and its fishery, but we’ve had bad experiences with spills. It looks like our crew got onto this one quickly,” noted Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard last Thursday. “It’s nothing like we’ve seen from oil tanks, this is a sheen but its better to err on the side of overkill.”

Discussion on home heating oil

A town-hall style meeting featuring experts who can speak to the environmental impacts of home heating oil spills will take place tonight (Nov. 14) at the University of Victoria.

The event, put on by the Gorge Tillicum Community Association and the Environmental Law Centre at UVic, will also focus on the legal ramifications of such spills.

The meeting happens from 7 to 9 p.m. in Room 159 of the Fraser Building at UVic.

–with files from Kyle Slavin

editor@saanichnews.com

 

Just Posted

Budget surpasses $3m for ‘absolutely necessary’ Lubbe Dam work

Reservoir represents about 30 per cent of the total storage in the Goldstream Water Supply System

Langford mayor says City threatened during meeting over speculation tax

Stew Young says he wants Langford exempt from tax

Crown to appeal acquittal of Victoria masseur accused of sexual assault

BC Prosecution Service review of the ruling found ‘the judgment revealed errors of fact and law’

Bike thief steals elderly man’s electric-assist bike

Bicycle is a black Raleigh Sprite IE Electric stolen from 600-block of Toronto Street

Unruly passenger forces Victoria-bound flight to divert to Calgary

Police say charges are pending against a woman in her 40s

What are the worst parking spots in Victoria?

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

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered B.C. girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

Explosion sends B.C. firefighter to hospital

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Arrest made after historic B.C. church hit by arson

The fire at the 150-year-old Murray United Church in Merritt was considered a possible hate crime

B.C. dangerous offender in court for violating no-contact order, sends letter to victim

Wayne Belleville was shocked to see a letter addressed to him from his shooter, Ronald Teneycke

Man blames his loud car radio, sirens for crash with B.C. ambulance

Tribunal rejects bid to recoup ICBC costs after crash deemed 100-per-cent his fault

Ferry from Port Hardy to Bella Coola expected to set sail this summer

Its first in-service route will sail in central coast waters on May 18, 2019.

Fashion Fridays: Inspirational gym outfits

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Most Read