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UPDATED: Oil tank leak spills fuel into Cowichan River

Spill came from leak in fuel tank on private property
A ruptured oil tank caused oil to be spilled into the Cowichan River near Lake Cowichan on Tuesday morning. Officials from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy are expected on scene Tuesday afternoon to assess the situation. (Anya Hind photo)

A leak in an oil tank on private property near Lake Cowichan caused a spill into the Cowichan River Tuesday morning, Feb. 9.

Staff from the Town of Lake Cowichan’s public works department were quickly on scene, followed soon after by inspectors from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

Joe Fernandez, CAO of the Town of Lake Cowichan, said workers from the town traced the spill back to its source and began using materials to absorb as much of the oil as they could, but the expectation is that a lot of oil from the tank escaped into the river before the workers arrived.

A statement from the ministry said the inspectors responded to a report of a light, patchy, rainbow sheen, with a diesel odour, on the Cowichan River.

“The release was stopped earlier in the day and most of the leaking fuel was contained to the home owner’s property,” the ministry statement said.

“The home owner, who is the responsible party for the leak, is retaining environmental contractors to mitigate further impact. The total volume spilled was likely between 300 to 500 litres of fuel. The remainder in the tank has been offloaded and the tank is decommissioned. The ministry has advised the owner of his responsibilities and will be following up.”