Dead seagull found, crabs euthanized following NS Power oil spill
A seagull and about a dozen crabs have died following an oil spill this month at a Nova Scotia Power (NSP) facility in Dartmouth.
Company spokesperson Tiffany Chase said on Wednesday that all of the animals were found with oil on them.
The seagull was recovered at the southern end of the property.
“We do not know the cause of death, but we have reported it to the Canadian Wildlife Service,” Chase said in an email.
The crabs, described as “small,” were located on the shoreline, and Chase said a federal government department was consulted about the matter.
“Based upon the advice of Fisheries [and Oceans Canada], we collected the crabs and froze them. This was the advice provided as we needed to remove them from the environment due to the oil contamination, and freezing is considered a humane treatment,” Chase stated.
Noisemakers have been installed at the site to scare animals away.
Judi Risser of Halifax provided Global News with photos she took on Aug. 9 of a blue heron standing on a rock and then flying near the generating station’s north shoreline.
The oil leak at the company’s Tufts Cove Generating Station occurred on Aug. 2. The only estimated amount that Nova Scotia Power has provided regarding the amount of heavy fuel oil number six that ended up in Halifax harbour is fewer than 5,000 litres.
On Tuesday, the company announced that about 9,400 litres leaked into the cooling water system of the site’s unit one generator, and 9,900 litres had leaked into the containment trench below the pipe and the system.
“I think we really dodged a bullet,” Stephen Thomas, the Ecology Action Centre’s energy campaign coordinator, said on Wednesday. “If all 20,000 or more of those litres actually made its way into the harbour and if it were a windy day, we’d have a much bigger problem on our hands here.”
“This is a heavy fuel oil spill, and as safe as we’re being with these state-of-the-art systems for cleaning it up, it still poses a big risk to marine life and to bird life.”
About 70 people are working on the cleanup, Robert Starkes, Eastern Canada Response Corporation Atlantic region manager told reporters on Tuesday.
“Overall, we expect mid-September this will all be cleaned up as per the regulatory cleanup plan,” Mark Sidebottom, NSP’s COO, said at the event. “We’re moving into a stage of meticulously cleaning the shoreline.”
The majority of the oil that leaked out has been recovered, according the company. NSP is working on a root cause analysis investigation, and it doesn’t know yet why there was a hole on a pipe that resulted in the spill.
The internal investigation will include third-party expertise when needed, another NSP spokesperson said earlier this month.
“The department requires NS Power to hire a certified site professional to oversee steps toward cleaning up the site and report to the department. That is underway and the company is being cooperative,” Bruce Nunn, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Environment, said in an email.
Global News asked NSP multiple times for the time the leak, the time it was discovered, when the last inspection occurred before the leak was found, and the time the leak was patched up.
Chase responded: “These are all part of an ongoing root cause analysis investigation that will culminate in a report to Nova Scotia Department of the Environment and Environment Canada. This is a common approach to information disclosure while an investigation is still underway.”
When asked in a follow-up email if those answers are known, why (if they’re known) they’re not being being released, and what potential rule exists that would not allow the answers to be released if the potential reason for not disclosing those basic details is because the matter is under investigation, she said: “I have nothing to add to my previous response about the investigation.”
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