PEI

Oil leak complicates demolition of old Prince Edward Home

Crews demolishing the old Prince Edward Home in Charlottetown have discovered a leaky underground oil tank. 

'There's been approximately 3,000 or so tonnes of soil removed from the site'

The province says it doesn't know how much oil spilled into the ground yet. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

The demolition of the old Prince Edward Home in Charlottetown has been complicated by the discovery of an oil leak, found by provincial officials back in July.

Crews working at the former nursing home noticed the leak when they found two oil tanks underneath the property.

One of those tanks was partially filled with oil, officials said, but are unsure for how long. 

"Anybody that's familiar with oil spills, you have to keep kind of digging until your consultant doesn't find any oil anymore. So we're trying to remediate that, which has turned into a big project," said P.E.I.'s Minister of Infrastructure Steven Myers. 

Unsure how much oil spilled

The province said the tanks were found under a portion of the building that was built in the 1930s and weren't registered.

At this point, the province said it doesn't know how much oil spilled into the ground. Environment officials are also involved now and are overseeing removal of the soil.

No one knew they were there, they were buried underground and no one even knows for how long they were there.— Steven Myers, minister of infrastructure

Barry Jackson, the environmental and regulatory co-ordinator with the Department of Environment, said a consultant was hired to do soil testing and install some monitoring wells to determine the impact from the spill.

"There's been approximately 3,000 or so tonnes of soil removed from the site," he said.

"So it was a fairly large excavation but the oil itself was, it was easy to find in the soil."

Minister of Infrastructure Steven Myers says the oil tanks found by crews were old and required immediate attention. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

Jackson said there was no indication that any groundwater was effected, but that will be part of the assessment done by the consultant.

He said the oil found is a type of fuel oil, which is thick and heavy.

"That in itself did make the excavation and the removal of soil from the site a fairly straightforward process," he said.

Jackson said the oil was moving toward Victoria Park, but the consultant will confirm whether more excavation needs to occur.

Demolition at the site began in June. (Ken Linton/CBC )

"The oil tanks were old. No one knew they were there, they were buried underground and no one even knows for how long they were there," Myers said. 

"So they weren't identified on the plan as part of the demolition and whenever they were found, kind of everything stopped in that area and we had to address that immediately." 

Once the demolition is complete, the province plans to use the land as green space, he said. 

The leak will put the $2.3 million project over budget, but the province doesn't know by how much, Myers said. 

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