Concerns are being raised after a crash earlier this month has left diesel flowing into an area waterway.
While the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks is aware of the spill and says a clean-up plan is being developed, one area resident has been documenting the slow process.
Driving into work in Timmins from Foleyet on Sept. 9, Kevin Gagnon was one of two drivers that came across a transport truck off the road in a swampy area on Highway 101 near Boulder Lake, a well-known fishing area about 15 minutes from Foleyet.
“We both stopped because it looked like the truck had just (driven) in there and it was dark out and his lights were still on. So we thought we were coming to an active scene,” he recalled.
They both jumped out of their trucks and ran to the vehicle, but nobody was inside. Gagnon believes the accident had happened sometime the night before.
At the time he remembers smelling diesel. It wasn't until the next day that he started thinking about how the truck was about 50 feet from the lake. If diesel was leaking, he was concerned it would go into the lake. That's when he made his first call to the Ministry of Environment.
“Five days the truck sat there, not touched. There was nobody who went by who tried to do any containment ... nothing,” said Gagnon.
“After it was pulled out, I went to look and I could see that there must have been about three or four puddles of diesel where just the water used to be, but it was diesel. And there was also an area that was all oil from the engine, so I called MOE again,” he said.
Eleven days later, he stopped by again to look at the scene. As of last night (Sept. 21), he took new photos showing diesel still in the water and flowing into the culvert that connects with other lakes and waterways.
“Because of the rain, the swamp area where the truck went in, the water came up, all that diesel started going into the lake, which is what I filmed — the diesel going into the lake and into the culvert. If we rewind to the beginning when I first went there, I didn’t see any sign of that diesel going in the lake. If it did, it went underneath because it is swamp and it could technically still get in because of the groundwater underneath, but physically you couldn’t see any diesel in the lake. It had a chance to be contained and cleaned, but they didn’t do anything,” he said.
The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks "takes spills and threats to the environment very seriously," said spokesperson Gary Wheeler in a statement.
The ministry has been to the spill site.
"Reports to the ministry’s Spills Action Centre indicated the vehicle was removed, and that a clean-up plan for the site is currently being developed," he said.
"The ministry has pressed the owner of the trucking company to complete the clean-up of the site and as of Sept. 21, the owner has retained an area clean-up company to attend to the site."
South Porcupine OPP didn't provide details on what happened in the collision but confirmed the OPP contacts the Ministry of Environment where there are fluids spilled at a scene.