Leaking drum leads to oil spill on highway

Four hour clean-up closes lane on Highway 16 east

An oil spill on Highway 16 east on Thursday afternoon closed down a lane of the highway for four hours while it was cleaned-up.

The spill was reported at around 4 p.m. after witnesses reported seeing a drum of oil leaking out of the back of a pick-up traveling onto the highway from the Vanderhoof waste transfer station.

Fire Chief Joe Pacheco responded to the report along with YRB and a public works employee.

After informing the Ministry of Environment about the spill, Pacheco says the first priority was containing the spill to reduce the possibility of environmental damage.

Large pads were placed around the spill to contain it and a YRB sand spreader covered the spilt oil with sand to absorb it.  One of the districts street sweepers was then used to pick it up.

The spill was prevented from spilling into the ditch which could have caused further environmental contamination.

Pacheco said that vehicles driving through the spill before he got there caused the oil to spread further down the highway.

“When I arrived on the scene, vehicles were driving through the spill, causing a fine mist of oil as they went through it,” he said.

“The oil was of no hazard to those cars but it made the oil travel that much further…all of a sudden a spill that was maybe 30 feet long became more like 400 feet long because of the vehicles driving through it,” he added.

It is unknown whose vehicle the spill came from as witnesses were unable to recall a description of the vehicle.

Pacheco suspects the person had traveled to the transfer station to dispose of the oil and then realized they couldn’t.

“I think what hapened was this person thought that there was an area at the recycling spot that they could put this oil into but there isn’t one – I think there’s one at the Co-op,” said Pacheco.

Crews worked till 8 p.m. before the lane was reopened to traffic.

Pacheco says workers did a good job and the large majority of the oil was cleaned up.