Metro Transit leak

Groundwater is being vacuumed up twice a day from recovery wells dug after a diesel leak was discovered in Burnside. (CBC)

The province’s environment minister is defending how the Halifax Regional Municipality is handling the diesel fuel leak at the Metro Transit depot in Burnside and the decision not to tell the public.

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

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

Nova Scotia’s Department of Environment was told on April 17, but the problem only became public when the city acknowledged the leak following questions from CBC News.

Environment Minister Randy Delorey says in this case there was no requirement to notify the public.

"Public notification occurs in incidences where there’s an imminent threat to the natural environment or human health. That hasn't been the case in this particular file," he said Thursday.

There’s no word on what caused the leak, how much diesel is involved, or how far it spread.

Pumper trucks are vacuuming out groundwater twice a day from eight recovery wells dug after the diesel leak was discovered.

One geologist who’s been a consultant for several environmental services companies says the cleanup could be lengthy.

"It’s very complicated in a dense urban environment," said Jennifer West with the Ecology Action Centre.

"I think they have a large oil spill in a commercial-zoned area with a lot of underground infrastructure and pathways that they may not be able to control — the collection, and the identification, the delineation of all the possible pathways."