Cleanup underway in Squamish, B.C., following diesel spill

The District of Squamish is responding to a diesel spill in the south end of the district's downtown area. Officials say some fuel did leak into a nearby estuary.

Crews work to contain contaminants but some polluted water entered local estuary

Contaminants sit on the surface of a storm water management pond in Squamish, B.C. Efforts are underway to clean up a diesel spill, believed to have originated at an underground tank in the district's downtown. (Jason Ross)

Jason Ross hopes the rainbow film of diesel he can see sitting on the surface of the pond next to his Squamish, B.C. home will be sucked up before it sinks into the water system. 

The District of Squamish is responding to a diesel spill in the south end of the district's downtown area. The first report of the spill was received late Wednesday afternoon.

According to the district's website, the source of the spill is believed to be an underground tank on a property located on Main Street and Cleveland Avenue. 

Gary Buxton, the general manager for community planning and infrastructure for the district, said Ministry of Environment crews were on the scene within hours to help with the cleanup, however he believes some of the fuel did pass into a nearby estuary.

"It's significantly small, but we don't want that out in the marine environment," he said.

A vacuum truck is being used to suck the contaminants from the surface to prevent polluted water from entering the local estuary and storm water system.

Crews work to place booms into a storm water pond in Squamish on Nov. 18, 2017, to trap fuel spilled from a nearby underground tank. (Alex Lemic/CBC)

Ross says he lives right next to the pond where the spill happened and he is concerned about fuel entering the estuary and eventually into Howe Sound.

Strong fumes

He said the fumes from the spill are strong and distressing for people walking or living in the area.

"I know others that were exposed and they said they had a hard time breathing," said Ross.

Local resident Jan Strachurl was walking his dog on Wednesday when he noticed the fumes.

"I was really concerned about it," he said.

He says the nearby estuary is a protected environment.

"So for something like that, to me, was a surprise," he said about the spill. "That shouldn't really happen."

Squamish resident Jan Stachurl was walking his dog on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 when he noticed a strong smell of diesel coming from the area around Third Avenue and Main Street. (Alex Lamic/CBC)

The Ministry of the Environment and the Provincial Emergency Program are involved in the clean up process. 

According to the ministry, Squamish has retained the services of an emergency response contractor to assist in the cleanup.

The district says because the fuel has mixed with rainwater, it is unable to say how much leaked.

About the Author

Bridgette Watson

Bridgette Watson is an associate producer and writer at CBC Vancouver. You can reach her at Bridgette.Watson@cbc.ca or @Beewatz on Twitter.