Efforts continue to clean up oil spill near refinery

North Atlantic says oil appears to be contained to a small beach in Placentia Bay

Published on January 7, 2016
Come By Chance refinery
TC Media file photo

Crews from the ECRC and North Atlantic Refinery are still at work today attempting to clean up oil that leaked into Placentia Bay Monday from a cracked pipe at the refinery dock near Come By Chance.

Gloria Warren-Slade, communications manager for North Atlantic, told TC Media this morning that from air surveillance yesterday it appears the light crude oil drifted onto a beach at Bordeaux, about five kilometers east of the refinery.

Bordeaux is an abandoned community on the shore of Placentia Bay, about a two-hour hike from Arnold’s Cove along a wooded trail.

“We did air, sea and land assessments of almost the entire bay yesterday,” she said, “and the only place where we found the product had gone was on the beach at Bordeaux.

“We had a helicopter flying yesterday for a couple of hours, from Come By Chance all the way up to Fair Haven, and this is the only spot where we could see oil.”

Warren Slade says officials are still working to determine how much oil leaked from the three-inch pipe at the dock, but added it is “not the heavy crude one might envision when you think of an oil spill.”

The product that was spilled, she said, is a light crude, appearing as a sheen on the surface of the water.

At the beach in Bordeaux, she said, they’ve found a “thin brown line” of oil in the snow.

The fact that the oil has been absorbed into the snow might make it easier to clean up, she said, because all they would have to do is remove the snow.

“This (oil spill) is not a good thing in any way,” she added, “but the fact the oil appears to have stayed together in one place, will enable us to get this cleaned up more quickly and make this better.”

Warren-Slade said the refinery will have more details later today after they meet with members of the ECRC crew around noon to get an update.

About two dozen people from ECRC are involved in the clean-up, she said, as well as several people from the refinery.

She said as soon as refinery officials discovered the pipe was leaking, they turned off the valve and placed a containment boom around the area to contain the oil as much as possible.

Warren Slade added, “This is a first for us. We’ve been here quite some time and this is the first time we’ve had to deal with a situation where oil has leaked from our piping.”

The refinery did have an incident a few years ago when crude oil was spilled while being offloaded from a crude carrier. However, a boom was immediately placed around the vessel and the crude contained.

In this case, she said, the oil was not being loaded onto or offloaded from a tanker. It was just that a piece of three-inch pipe in the refinery’s piping system developed a crack and light crude oil inside the pipe seeped out.

Warren-Slade said the refinery will issue another news update later today.