Potential oil leak into sewer, nearby playground concerns LaSalle residents
Published Wednesday, July 9, 2014 3:46PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 9, 2014 7:09PM EDT
Some residents in LaSalle are worried after oil may have leaked into a sewer system, and contaminated a children's playground.
The potential contamination stems from a building that houses Allion Elementary and LaSalle Community Comprehensive High School on 9th Ave.
Workers were attempting to remove two oil tanks that were used for a former mechanic's class. Both tanks were mostly filled with oily sand.
During the removal process, they placed an oil tank down on the ground right next to the school, which is also right next to a children's playground.
The sandy oil was covered by tarps, but with the wind Tuesday, it was blowing around that oily sand and the rain may have taken some of it to the sewer system.
Local resident Joseph Pugliese noticed them Tuesday.
“There was a high wind storm, the taps were blowing around and there was dust everywhere,” he said, adding that when the rain started, it appeared to move some of the oily sand into the sewer.
He called firefighters and alerted the city, but said he was initially ignored.
“It doesn't take rocket science to know this is potential contamination,” he said, adding that he questioned whether the drinking water would be affected by the oil.
Pugliese said he could not receive sufficient answers from the borough or the environment ministry, but Lester B. Pearson School Board, which mandated the work, said their engineers have performed tests.
“What the engineers did was put an absorbent material into the sewer system,” explained Lester B. Pearson School Board chairperson Suanne Stein Day. “This material absorbs oils first and immediately and you can look into the sewer system and there is no contamination in that material right now.”
City officials say it was windy all day, and even as the crew worked to eliminate the oily sand, it was still blowing and the smell of oil remained pungent in the air.
The borough never closed the park, however, which made several parents and daycare workers with children nervous enough to move them to a new park, upon learning of the issue.
The borough told CTV Montreal in a phone interview that their own inspector found there was no health risk.
Pugliese said that determination did not put him at ease.
“My concern is that it could be potentially hazardous to the children and to the public,” he said.
Meantime, Lester B. Pearson chairperson Suanne Stein Day said she was pleased swift action was taken by a concerned resident.
“I'm really happy that concerned citizens spotted this, called 911 and the fire department was alerted very quickly. We are part of this community so we're very glad to have vigilant citizens around. We believe that we've done everything possible to contain the situation, and that everything appears to be safe, but we will continue to monitor it and test and make sure that this – the land, the water, and our community here – is safe,” she said.
The oily sand has now been removed and officials assure that if some leaked into in the water system, the filtration plant should be able to eliminate it.