Province to 'take that lead' on Shoal Point oil spill, Dan Crummell says

Environment Minister Dan Crummell said his department is hard at work trying to stop an oil leak in western Newfoundland and there will be no need for the federal government to deal with the problem.
Oil seeping into bay on the Port au Port Peninsula. (Submitted by Aiden Mahoney)

Environment Minister Dan Crummell said his department is hard at work trying to stop an oil leak in western Newfoundland and there will be no need for the federal government to deal with the problem.

An abandoned exploratory well at the tip of Shoal Point has been seeping oil into Port au Port Bay. Residents noticed a sheen on the water in June.

Crummell said the province has already started the tendering process to find a company to contain the leak.

"We're going to isolate the leak, use a double culvert and contain the oil that's there," he said. "Then we will excavate right down to the wellhead under the ground."

Port au Port residents have been reporting oil slicks on the water of the area since June. (Submitted by Aiden Mahoney)

The cost to repair the leaking oil-well casing is estimated at $100,000, but Crummell said it's possible it could be more once digging starts.

He confirmed the leak is not a continuous one and there is no evidence of environmental damage in the area. In fact, he said, the Environment and Conservation department did five flyovers of the area between June 11 and last week and no oil was detected on the water at that time.

Crummell said while there were various methods put forward on how to deal with the seepage, the department is putting trust in the strategy that its advisors settled on.

"Our experts tell us this is the best path," he said. "They know their business and we certainly adhere to that."

Meanwhile, the minister hopes people are satisfied with the action his department is taking. 

"[It] could have been argued that the department of Fisheries and Oceans should have been taking the lead on this," he said.

"Our department decided to take that lead — and i'm happy to be talking about this today."

Locals pledge to keep an eye on situation

After nearly two years of sounding the alarm on the oil leak, residents in the Port au Port area say they will continue monitoring the waters of the area even after the province contains the spill.

"We just want it cleaned up," said Aiden Mahoney of Stephenville.

"We do send kudos out to Mr. Crummell for getting it started at least."

Mahoney said this latest leak shows the dangers of oil exploration, and that decision makers should keep it in mind during any future discussions on fracking in the region.

He and other residents are gravely concerned about the decline in marine life in the area and won't stop putting pressure on government leaders until there are signs that life is returning to the waters of the Shoal Point area.

"We'll be watching," he said.

"It better be fixed or the minister and the public will be hearing from us again."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.