New Brunswick

Fredericton gives up trying to find source of mysterious oil leak

After two months of searching for the source of an underground oil leak into a Fredericton museum, engineers are throwing in the towel.

Months of trying to identify source of oil that closed museum have turned up nothing

Engineers contracted by the City of Fredericton drilled down in several areas surrounding the Fredericton Region Museum in Officers' Square in search of the source of leaking oil. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

After two months of searching for the source of an underground oil leak into the Fredericton Region Museum, engineers are throwing in the towel. 

Record-high floodwaters this spring saturated the grounds surrounding Officers' Square, flooding the museum basement. 

Those floodwaters brought with them an oily fuel slick that forced the downtown museum to close for weeks because of heavy fumes. 

When the floodwaters receded, so did the oil seepage.

Hired experts

Since then the city has scoured the area for the source. Search efforts culminated last month with the city's hiring of engineers to probe the area.  

Those efforts turned up nothing, so now the city is calling off the search.

A consultant's final report, identifying no clear source of the oil, has been shared with the Department of Environment and Local Government, said Wayne Knorr, a spokesperson for the city, in an email to CBC News.

"We anticipate the department will now close the file." 

Soil probes did pick up traces of other oils, according to the city. But these were described as "lube oil" and didn't match the "fuel oil" source engineers were searching for. 

"These hydrocarbons would be typical of an urban environment, possibly coming from parking lot runoff," wrote Knorr. 

Theories about where the oil came from included buried barrels and an abandoned oil tank. 

But unless the oil leak starts up again, the source will continue to remain a mystery. 

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