Prince Edward County has declared a state of emergency after contaminants from a partially submerged barge at Picton Terminals seeped into the town’s water supply system area Tuesday.
Mayor Robert Quaiff declared the water emergency Tuesday night stating at 4:30 p.m., the contaminants entered the Picton intake protection Zone 1, but didn’t flow into the intake pipe.
On Friday, an empty barge owned by Galcon Marine partially sank while docked at Picton Terminals on the Picton Harbour. There were no injuries and no loss of pollutants except for two five gallon buckets which were on the barge deck at the time. Approximately 30 litres of oil released was said to be contained however Tuesday night Mayor Quaiff said it had leaked into the water supply intake. There is believed to be approximately 1,200 litres of diesel and 100 litres of hydraulic fluid. Both tanks are self-contained and inside the machinery space. The cause of the incident is still unknown,” said Transportation Safety Board Regional Senior Investigator-Marine Captain Steven Neatt in a previous interview with Quinte News. “We are in constant contact with the owner of the barge and continue to follow the situation closely.”
The mayor said due to the proximity of the contaminates and unfavourable wind conditions overnight the County has decided to halt water processing at the Bloomfield-Picton water plant until the safety of the water can be confirmed.
Picton and Bloomfield residents are being urged to conserve water intake.
In a follow up interview with mayor Quaiff, he stated there is approximately 48 hours of water in the reservoirs at the facility however residents are still urged to conserve water.
An earlier statement by McKeil Marine, the company that chartered the barge, said it was expanding a protective pollution boom to encapsulate a larger area after a small amount of sheen became present on the water between the dock and the barge, which is positioned about 50 feet (15 metres) offshore.
Mayor Quaiff said by virtue of this announcement, 600 feet of new containment boom has been deployed and 4,000 feet more of containment boom is on its way to the scene at Picton Terminals.
The mayor said the County’s emergency control group which was activated Tuesday will be meeting Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. to access the situation.
The group has been on high alert since Friday and is made up of Mayor Robert Quaiff, CAO James Hepburn, Commission of Engineering, Development and Works Robert McAuley, Fire Chief Scott Manlow, the Ontario Provincial Police, public health representative and councillor Barry Turpin, County clerk Kim Whyte, social services and communications coordinator Lisa McLennan.
It’s anticipated the barge will be recovered Wednesday weather permitting.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Eastern Canada Response Corporation Ltd., the Ministry of Operation and McKeil Marine are on scene overseeing and monitoring the situation.