Around-the-clock oil spill cleanup continues despite snow

Work to clean an oil spill at Little Rouge Creek continues despite Monday’s heavy snowfall, Ontario’s Environment Ministry says.

About six centimetres of snow fell on northeast Scarborough Dec. 6, but it was not enough to impede ongoing efforts to vacuum oil from the creek, said ministry spokesperson Lindsay Davidson. More snow is expected before the weekend.

“The snow right now is not a factor yet,” Davidson said. “The effort is still the same as it was a week ago. We have a person there at the site everyday.”

The cleanup crew has lights set up to allow work to continue overnight.

“It’s a 24-hour cleanup exercise,” Davidson said.  “It’s not stopping right now. We’re uncertain how long it’s going to last.”

“The oil just keeps coming out from the banks,” environmental service worker Dave Rennie said. “This is going to take a long time.”

The spill was detected at Standard Auto Wreckers, near Sewells Road and Steeles Avenue, on Nov. 19. Workers noticed something seeping into the creek.

The Environment Ministry expressed early concern that gasoline, along with oil, may have contaminated the creek, but tests by environmental cleanup company Direct Line proved the spill was limited to oil.

An oil spill is easier to control because it rises to the surface, while gasoline does not, Rennie told The Observer two weeks ago.

Municipal drinking water hasn’t been affected because workers choked off the spill before it entered the Rouge River, stopping it from reaching the city’s tap water source, Lake Ontario.