Nfld. & Labrador

Oil slick on Port au Port Peninsula raising alarms

Reports of oil flowing into the bay on the Port au Port Peninsula is causing alarm among local residents and in the House of Assembly. However, one resident said politicians have known about the oil for years.
Local resident Aiden Mahoney said he was "shocked" by the amount of oil flowing into the bay. (Submitted by Aiden Mahoney)

Reports of oil flowing into the bay on the Port au Port Peninsula is causing concern among local residents and in the House of Assembly.

Aiden Mahoney, who lives in Stephenville, saw oil seepage and broken pipe casings when he and a friend hiked out along the shoreline last week.

We thought it was just going to be oil seeps, but now it's actually oil flowing into the bay.-Aiden Mahoney

"When we were about a quarter of a kilometre from the site, we could smell a rank smell. We didn't know what it was," said Mahoney.

"We thought it was just going to be oil seeps, but now it's actually oil flowing into the bay."

Mahoney said residents have always known about the oil slick, but did not know how bad the situation had become.

"We were shocked."

Mahoney said the casings were falling apart in his hands, and that oil was bubbling up to the surface.

Mahoney posted pictures of the oil on Facebook, which caught the attention of several provincial politicians.

Environment minister seeking more information

Environment Minister Dan Crummell said he first heard about the slick through social media.

"We are on top of this. We're looking into it," Crummell told the House of Assembly.

"We need to determine how this is happening, whether it's a natural occurrence or if it's coming from former oil drill sites."

Crummell said an official was sent to the site last week, and the government is presently collecting more information. He said his department needs to know the extent of the situation before deciding on the next steps.

But Mahoney said politicians have known about the oil slick for years. He said he has alerted federal and provincial government to the situation many times, but has always been passed off.

"I guess they acted on this yesterday because they were embarrassed because of Facebook," said Mahoney.

"We want to see it cleaned up right now."

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