Oil leak at South Rustico school creates cleanup woes

An oil leak at École St-Augustin in South Rustico three weeks ago is causing cleanup problems for the P.E.I. French Language School Board.

Frost heave suspected to have snapped line at École St-Augustin

An oil leak at the French school in South Rustico has meant a lengthy cleanup ... and a big hole. (CBC)

An oil leak at École St-Augustin in South Rustico three weeks ago is causing cleanup problems for the P.E.I. French Language School Board.

The leak in the line to the outdoor tank occurred on March 31 and cleanup efforts have been taking place ever since.

“We have got an environmental engineering firm who specializes in these types of clean ups who's co-ordinating the work there at the present time,” said Brad Samson, the board’s director of administration and finance services.

“The fuel tank has the capacity of 9,100 litres. It wasn't all lost. We still had about half a tank when we noticed. So we are assuming that it was full at the outset. We do know that we did have a fuel delivery on March 28, so we would be assuming that the tank was topped up at that time.”

There is quite a mess outside as digging takes place, said Samson.

But only one class had to be relocated. It was moved to the library in the school.

There are some fumes and as a precaution, an air extractor has been installed in that classroom to ensure the odours don't spread.

An environmental engineering firm is taking care of the oil leak at the school, says school principal Sylvain Gagné. (CBC)
“For the most part, we don't smell anything, said school principal Sylvain Gagné.

Officials are not sure what caused the line to break, but they suspect the fluctuating mild and cold temperatures played a role.

“Our most educated guess at this point is that there would have been some frost heave at the base of the oil tank, which would have caused a shift in the tank and snapped the line, said Gagné.

School board officials say at this point they're not sure how much longer crews will need to there, or how much the cleanup is ultimately going to cost. They do expect it will be covered by insurance.

The board says all its schools have outdoor tanks. Before it installs a new permanent one at École St-Augustin it plans to assess the setup there to see if there is any way to avoid another leak in the future.