The latest fuel spill in Jackson Creek flowing into Little Lake in Peterborough may be linked to the city’s own property, according to provincial environmental officials.
Since a large oily sheen was discovered Thursday, city, private companies and officials with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks have focused on remediation measures, including using boons and vacuum trucks. A timeline for cleanup completion has not been determined.
On Monday, the city said cleanup continues as does the investigation into the spill.
“I would stress that the source is not known for this contamination,” said Brendan Wedley, the city’s communications services manager.
No environmental orders have been issued for city properties, he also noted.
However, late Monday afternoon, Global News Peterborough received correspondence from the ministry which says the city’s transit property on Townsend Street near the creek is “possibly” the latest source of the contamination.
“We believe the sheen is possibly caused by an historic underground release of diesel fuel from the city’s transit yard property on Townsend Street, adjacent to the creek,” the ministry stated.
The ministry says the latest sheen may have been caused by milder temperatures which impacted ground conditions.
“Over the weekend, the amount of contamination within the creek was subsequently reduced to due a drop in outdoor temperatures,” the ministry stated. “Sampling work is being undertaken by the city to assess potential impacts, which the ministry will review.”
The ministry notes oily sheens and films have been recurring on Jackson Creek since late August 2022. Since that spill, the ministry notes the city has taken “ongoing measures” to contain and clean up the oil sheen and residue in the creek.
The city used a ministry-approved barrier from November 2022 to January 2023 as part of remediation work on city-owned property identified as potential sources of the summertime contamination.
Both Peterborough Public Health and the city say no further harms are anticipated and that the city’s water supply is safe since it’s drawn upstream and treated.
The health unit also advises anyone downstream of Little Lake to report any oil sheens or fuel odour.
“There has been water sampling taken at the outlet as well as at other locations throughout Little Lake to monitor where that contamination is going,” Wedley said. “The amount of contamination has been greatly reduced.”
— with files from Germain Ma/Global News Peterborough