Environmental crews are involved in a major cleanup of a substantial diesel leak at a Metro Transit garage. 

The leak has contaminated the groundwater in the Burnside area. The fuel is not in the Dartmouth lake system, but some may have gone into the harbour.  

The problem was detected April 9 at a car dealership located one kilometre away on Windmill Road. It was traced back to the garage on May 21. 

'It's going to cost a lot. Any major cleanup costs a lot' - Shannon Miedema

The Nova Scotia Environment Department was notified April 17, but the leak wasn't reported to the public. 

Crews from AMEC have dug eight recovery wells to vacuum up the fuel. Workers were on the scene Wednesday sopping up fuel.

$200,000 and counting

The cleanup has cost about $200,000 already.

Shannon Miedema, an environmental performance officer with HRM, said the fuel was flowing through the ditches and culverts toward the harbour.

“It’s going to cost a lot. Any major cleanup costs a lot. We’ve already spent a lot just to suck up contaminated water and pay to dispose of it,” she said.

Redden Petroleum installed the above-ground storage tanks in 2009, but its tanks are not the problem.

The investigation focuses now on the rest of the fuelling system. It pumps 25,000 litres of diesel into the buses every day.

“We’re looking at the whole system,” she said.

The plume of oil is decreasing with the cleanup efforts, Miedema added.

Metro Transit said it doesn’t know how much was spilled, but said it was a substantial amount. It said there is no immediate threat to the environment, or to human health.

Barriers are now in place to stop the fuel leaking off the site.

“We need to know exactly what caused the release, we need to know the cause of the plume, and we need to figure out our remedial action plan,” Miedema said.

She couldn't estimate how long the cleanup will take, or when they might identify the source of the leak.