Toronto company responds to fuel spill leaking into Don River, cleanup begins
A Toronto real estate company is responding after a Global News report exposed a petroleum spill in the Don River that is suspected to be flowing from a nearby contaminated property.
A spokesman for Akelius Real Estate Management, the company that owns a nearby “brownfield” property, said they were informed of the spill near the Gerrard Street overpass by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Wednesday night.
“We decided obviously to take action so we got our consultants and our internal personnel to meet with the ministry and the City of Toronto on site today to investigate it,” Robert Parker, vice president of asset management, said.
“It’s very unfortunate as to what has occurred here and obviously we do not want that but we’ll do everything that we can obviously to work with the ministry and work with the city to find a solution both in the temporary time and also for the long-term.”
The foul-smelling fuel spill was reported to the City of Toronto more than two weeks ago by a concerned resident, which prompted staff to work to contain it while they investigate the source.
“I’d like to see the tank and sewer connection be cleaned as soon as possible and I understand that work on this will begin this weekend,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said in an emailed statement Thursday.
“I’m glad staff at Toronto Water acted as quickly as possible once a resident called 311.”
Bill Shea, director of distribution and collection for Toronto Water, said officials suspected the brownfield property was the source of the gas leak but investigators were still working to confirm the source and contain the spill Thursday.
Shea said the land was a “contaminated site” known to the ministry and the property owner is responsible for monitoring it.
Mark Mattson, an environmental lawyer and founder of local charity Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, said the spill is a “real concern” to the local environment and has a strong odour of oil that has been leaking into the freshwater river for weeks.
“Starting tomorrow we’ll have contractors on site working again with our consultants, personnel and the city to ensure that there’s at least a temporary stoppage of any leakage that is coming from the site and then as well that will provide us time to actually find a more long-term solution to ensure that this doesn’t happen ever again,” Parker said.
“We’re still waiting for all the facts to come to light from the investigation, from our consultants, from the ministry and from the city but we are working together with them to find again a solution.”
WATCH: ’Petroleum-like material’ found oozing into Toronto’s Don River
A spokesman for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change said they continue to work with the city to confirm the source of the leak “but no final determination” has yet been made on the source.
Gary Wheeler added city crews are “working diligently to stop the leak” and have removed the petroleum from the sewer to “address any further leakage into the Don River.”
With files from Katherine Aylesworth and Christina Stevens
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