N.W. residents question timely alert to gas leak

Some Bowness residents are still looking for answers about a gasoline leak that forced them from their homes.
Bowness resident Melinda Hillier attended the meeting Thursday night over a leak at a local gas station. She wants to know why residents weren't immediately informed of the leak. ((CBC))

Some Bowness residents are still looking for answers about a gasoline leak that forced them from their homes.

About 30 people confronted representatives of Alberta Health Services and Alberta Environment at a meeting in Calgary on Thursday night.

Their biggest concern was why it took so long for them to find out about the leak from a nearby Gas Plus gas station.

Resident Melinda Hillier said she had smelled gas for months before being told about the situation.

"Why didn't anybody tell us about the leak? We were told that another leak happened in 2006, and we weren't told about that. We just found out only a couple of weeks ago," she said. "And we want to know: why weren't the residents told?

"If nobody had been smelling gas, would nobody know about it now?"

Gas Plus notified Alberta Environment last spring that 9,000 litres of gas had escaped the site.

Officials told those at the meeting that only one resident was informed, since that person complained about the fumes.

"They had complained about the vapours in their basement, and so our first priority was to deal with those vapours in the basement," said Cara Tobin, spokeswoman for Alberta Environment.

Gas Plus has been ordered to map out how the extent of contamination from a leak at one of its gas stations in Bowness. ((CBC))
The province said it's been working with the company to recover the gasoline, and has ordered Gas Plus to map out the extent of contamination.

Residents also wanted to know why it's taken so long for air quality tests to be done, something Gas Plus is in charge of.

The MLA for the area said she's been working with the province since December to get those tests done.

"I have been encouraging people that if they just sort of think that maybe they might possibly smell something, that they insist on getting it tested," said Bowness MLA Alana DeLong.

AHS said it would soon issue a timeline to Gas Plus as to when the testing should be complete.