Oil Spill in B.C. contaminates protected waterway

It took  several days to determine the source of an oil spill that contaminated the Gorge Creek in the Township of Esquimalt in British Columbia. It was confirmed by officials that the cause of the spill was a leaking residential heating-oil tank.  Oil from the tank entered both the subsurface and the stormwater system and eventually made its way to Gorge Creek.

Emergency Management BC found the spill on January 18th.  Esquimalt staff investigated potential spill sites in the north neighbourhoods of Esquimalt as well as monitor the creek to deploy booms and absorbing materials.  It took until January 24th to pinpoint the location of the spill.

As frustrations grew on the inability to locate the source of the spill, the number of officials involved in clean-up efforts grew to include federal, provincial, township and Capital Regional District staff.  Marine-spill and hazardous-materials experts were also at the scene, hired by the Township to assist with the cleanup.

Gorge Creek represents a critical part of the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary that was created in 1923 to curb the hunting of birds. A Capital Regional District report says the sanctuary includes 1,840 hectares of marine and estuarine waters and provides habitat for rare and endangered plants and wildlife.  The impact of the spill on wildlife has yet to be assessed.

The total about of heating oil spilled into the creek and total cost of clean-up has yet to be determined.