Botched oil change threatens river

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Transmission fluid may have reached Sturgeon

Local firefighters went on sponge duty Thursday afternoon after a botched oil change sent transmission fluid flowing into the Sturgeon River.

St. Albert fire crews arrived at the St. Albert Canadian Tire outlet at about 3 p.m. Thursday following reports of a fluid spill from a truck parked on the property, said Capt. Charles Tye.

He emphasized that Canadian Tire staff had nothing to do with this spill.

“This did not appear to be involved with Canadian Tire at all,” he said.

Witnesses say that the male driver of the pickup truck, a blue Chevy Silverado 1500, pulled up next to the store’s car maintenance bays and apparently attempted to perform an oil change. The driver accidentally released about 10 litres of transmission fluid from the truck in the process.

A Canadian Tire service technician noticed the spill and called city officials.

The spill left an oily sheen on a puddle of water that was about 1.5 times the length of a typical city bus and one bus wide, Tye said.

“It appears that it may have entered into the storm sewer system,” he said.

It was raining heavily by the time crews arrived, Tye said. He and his team worked quickly to block off two nearby storm sewer grates and soak up the contaminated water with absorbent pads.

Public works and office of the environment officials arrived soon after to try and contain the spill, some of which reached the nearby outfall into the Sturgeon River.

“There is a sheen at the outfall,” said city environmental co-ordinator Jeff Yanew, so it’s likely that some of the contaminated fluid reached the river.

Crews deployed booms around the outfall and skimmed off what they could, Yanew said. Much of the contaminant appeared to be contained to the area around the outfall.

“It’s a deleterious substance in a fish-bearing water body,” he noted, but at this point it’s uncertain if there was enough of the substance to actually harm fish.

Alberta Environment has been notified and may conduct an investigation.

The RCMP are now investigating the spill, Tye said.

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Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.