POINTE-CLAIRE – The clean up operation has been halted on the shores of Lac St-Louis following an oil spill in Valois Bay. The City of Pointe-Claire is currently investigating and waiting for lab results to try to determined the source of the spill.
A leading environmentalist is now sounding the alarm and strongly suspects the spill came from the shore and not the Seaway.
“We have to identify the polluter and the polluter must be prosecuted,” said Daniel Green from the Société pour vaincre la pollution.
Traces of oil are still visible in Valois Bay, three days after residents first sounded the alarm.
“I’m very worried about it because it’s the first time I can smell it,” said Hervé Fournier, a Pointe-Claire resident. “Yesterday it wasn’t bad like that but today it really smells strong.”
A pumping truck was on site earlier this week for 48 hours, and workers tried to remove all traces of the oil spill. But large oil spill booms remain along the shoreline in an effort to contain contamination.
The City of Pointe-Claire is waiting for lab test results of the oil samples before attempting to track down the culprit.
“I’ve never seen oil in Lac St Louis to that extent,” Pointe-Claire’s Mayor Morris Trudeau told Global News on Tuesday.
The source of the spill is still a mystery but many residents suspect it’s coming from a storm water sewer that discharges directly into Valois Bay.
“There have been a couple of incidents within the last four years or so and it’s alarming!” said Pointe-Claire resident Paul Buteau, pointing to the St-Denis storm sewer. “I think it’s coming from there.”
Clean up crews left the scene late Tuesday, but some wish they had stayed to remove the contaminated ice. The remaining oil will likely sink and resurface in the summer.
“Clearly there has to be an attempt to remove the oil that has sunk and it’s very hard to remove oil under ice,” insisted Green.
Inspectors from Environment Canada were on site Wednesday afternoon to test the water.
Judging by the location of the spill at the foot of Lake Avenue, right next to the storm sewer, some suspect an industrial park inland or a jet fuel spill from Dorval Airport just north of Valois Bay could be to blame.
“In the Montreal area this is almost the third time in the last year that we’ve had these spills,” said Green. “If we can’t control small scale spills how will we ever deal with pipeline or other massive-scale spills?”
Green insists the drinking water supply on the West Island won’t be affected, but worries the contamination could make its way downstream.
“The only water intake downstream is Lachine, so probably the Lachine water works should be looking at this and make sure they’re not picking up oil.”
Residents living along the shoreline hope authorities will come back to clean up before the ice melts and before all signs of contamination disappear beneath the surface.