Crews recovered several hundred fish including 318 cutthroats from Reay Creek over two days after a suspected bleach leak. (Ian Bruce/Submitted)

Crews recovered several hundred fish including 318 cutthroats from Reay Creek over two days after a suspected bleach leak. (Ian Bruce/Submitted)

Several hundred fish dead in Vancouver Island creek after suspected bleach leak

Ian Bruce of Peninsula Streams Society calls for speedy, proper investigation

A local expert calls for a speedy and proper investigation after what is believed to bleach leaked into Sidney’s Reay Creek, killing hundreds of fish.

“Investigations by the proper authorities need to be undertaken to find the leak’s source,” said Ian Bruce, executive coordinator of the Peninsula Streams Society, on Sunday morning.

He made these comment two days after a five-year-old child found the first of several hundred dead fish in the creek Friday morning. The child then alerted his parents, who subsequently reached out to the Town of Sidney, which asked Bruce to investigate.

Bruce said the bleach had entered the creek through a stormwater drain via a perimeter drain.

“Somebody was using a lot of bleach to clean something for some reason and then maybe just dumped it out on the yard. They may not have known that it would go that quickly to the perimeter drain and that quickly to the creek. They weren’t aware or they didn’t care, one of the two.”

The effects were devastating. Crews recovered 318 dead cutthroat trout, six cohos, 13 sculpins and 11 sticklebacks from the creek, said Bruce, adding that the spill also affected smaller animals of various sorts.

“It basically killed everything in its path for about 150 metres,” he said.

RELATED: Sidney asks for input on future of Reay Creek Park

Bruce praised the response of the municipality to the incident after the initial discovery. “Sidney did a really good job,” he said. “They brought staff in to help pick up the dead fish.”

This leak and its consequences draw attention to the potential effects of handling and disposing of harmful chemicals and other material. “(People) have to be very, very careful with things that can harm fish,” he said.

This incident has occurred against the backdrop of on-going efforts by the municipality as well as other parties including to Peninsula Streams Society to help restore the natural environment of Reay Creek and its watershed.

The area has been the site of significant investment by the municipality in recent years, including the recent remediation of the Reay Creek dam.

Transport Canada’s has also been remediating the pond created by the dam after the federal government took full responsibility for contaminating the area through its activities on the nearby Victoria International Airport.

Last month, students attending KELSET Elementary School in North Saanich released juvenile salmon into the creek.

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RELATED: Saanich Peninsula elementary students help restock, clean up local creeks.


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com