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MONTREAL – As efforts to contain a major oil spill into the St. Lawrence River continued Wednesday, the stench of diesel permeated the air around the Suncor facility in Montreal East.
One worker, his face covered, was using a vacuum-like apparatus to remove the fuel from the water as oil the colour of molasses coats about 500 metres of riverfront.
The spill also was being contained with booms and Suncor officials said the leak at quais 109 and 110, near the corner of Marien Ave. and Notre Dame St. East has been stopped.
But Environment officials and Suncor are still trying to assess the extent and danger of what firefighters described Tuesday night as a “major” spill.
At a news conference at Suncor Energy’s Montreal East refinery Wednesday afternoon, Suncor vice-president Bruno Francoeur said 35 barrels (about 5,500 litres) were spilled. Of that, they’ve recovered 30 barrels, which means about 500 litres have dissipated into the St. Lawrence River.
Francoeur added that after the spill was discovered Tuesday evening, booms were in place to contain by 2:20 a.m. Wednesday to contain it.
Suncor spokesperson Michael Southern told journalists the spilled material was a mix “of diesel fuel and water” that the company was notified about at about 10:30 Tuesday night.
“We don’t know how much leaked at this time, but we are in the process of containing it,” Southern said.
He added the exact source and cause of the leak was still to be determined by an investigation by Suncor officials.
The spill was reportedly extending half a kilometre wide in the river.
Montreal Fire Department chief of operations Benoit Fleury said there is no danger to the public.
Suncor officials and Environment Quebec officials are now in charge of the cleanup, Fleury added.
Fire officials said they were called to the corner of Marien and Notre Dame Sts. on Tuesday night after residents complained of a strong smell.
Firefighters were deployed in boats to determine the size, nature and origin of the spill while waiting for officials from Environment Canada and Environment Quebec to arrive at the scene.
Montreal Fire Department operations chief Francis Ruest said the spill was located near port and oil refinery facilities in the area.
“Right now, we have personnel in boats out there trying to assess the size of the spill,” he said.
More details to come.© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette
Clean-up of diesel spill underway in St. Lawrence River near Montreal EastIn Canada on September 29, 2010 at 19:35