BRANTFORD — Hydrocarbon was reported to TRT to have leaked into the Grand River through a culvert on Gilkison St., by a Brantford resident on Monday evening.
Examples of hydrocarbons include chemicals whose formulas consist of only carbon and hydrogen atoms which are natural gas and fuels — compounds like gasoline, methane, butane and propane.
Clean up crews were on the scene on Monday working to clear up the chemical from the water through green siphons with booms placed to help slow the flow of water.
Maria Visocchi, Director of Communications and Community Engagement for the city of Brantford, forwarded a release that explained that on Tuesday, January 28, the City’s Environmental Services Department was notified by the Spills Action Centre (SAC) regarding reports of a ‘rainbow sheen’ on a creek entering the Grand River near Gilkison and Veterans Memorial Parkway.
Seven adsorbent booms were then installed by City staff to capture the material in the sheen which was thought to be a hydrocarbon due to its appearance and fuel-like odor.
City staff has since investigated the upstream catch basins (chamber on roadways that collect stormwater) and on Thursday, January 30, determined that the source was most likely a storm sewer running through a private property on Colborne Street.
The owner of the property has been contacted and is working closely with City, and Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks Conservation (MECP) officials, as well as the spill clean-up contractor (iTech), to identify the source and stop any further contamination.
Visocchi’s release further noted that “at this time, we can confirm that this incident does not pose a threat to the environment or the public. The occurrence is downstream of the City of Brantford’s drinking water intake, therefore there is absolutely no risk from this event with respect to the City’s drinking water supply.”
In accordance with the management policy in place for the City of Brantford, the water supply is tested multiple times on a daily basis and the forward assures that the water is safe.
Visocchi notified through the release that the MECP inspector will be visiting the site again on Tuesday, February 4 to provide an updated assessment and that City staff will continue to monitor the situation closely.
On January 26, the Mohawk Canal, just a five-minute drive from the Gilkison location, was reported by another resident of Brantford to contain garbage covered in a “red substance.” The resident explained that garbage accumulated due to a fallen tree in the canal which left the trash, containing needles, covered in the liquid.
Christine Dearing, under the name Urban Wildz for her wildlife photography, created the Brantford Ecoist Society Facebook page as a response to what she seen in the canal.
Her written statement is as follows:
“By way of introduction, I began ‘monitoring’ wildlife around Mohawk Canal and Lake following an open house for the Mohawk Revitalization project. The leaders had talked about the fish but said there were no studies available for other wildlife. So I volunteered for a citizen science project to track wildlife species in the area. I now include insects and am working on plant identification as well.
It was within this context that I found the van in the Mohawk Canal on December 29, 2019. And again, when I discovered the contaminant on the Mohawk Canal a short way downstream from where the van had entered the canal. I found the spill on January 26, 2020, and attempted to report it to the City of Brantford the following day (Monday), and from there, being redirected by the receptionist, attempting to notify GRCA.
When one spends time in the area, one is aware of the amount of garbage in and around the canal and lake, the dumping that occurs, and so forth. I do what I can, pick up garbage on my own, and sometimes in organized cleanups when I can. But basically I have learned to steel my heart to the pollution choking the area, because what I can do on my own is very limited, both in time, resources that I can dedicate to the work; and in physical capability.
However, when I saw the spill on January 26, I walked home in tears, upset that the beaver that lives right where the contamination collected was exposed to more hazardous substances; I told myself either I could do better to protect these helpless beings who are at the mercy of our society, or I would quit monitoring the wildlife.
I determined to try to do better for the wildlife; and knowing that I can’t do it by myself, I created a group that week to work on protecting, conserving and enhancing Brantford’s naturalized spaces, the Brantford Ecoist Society
I have attached my species observation report for 2019 for your interest. With over 70 species of birds and 13 mammals (not counting feral cats), the count demonstrates that the canal and lake are a vitally important green corridor for wildlife, and should be preserved as same. I am also advocating for the idea (not mine) to close off the easternmost end of Greenwich Street and turn it back into green space, creating an extension to Mohawk Park. This would ensure the green corridor would be able to continue to support the incredible diversity of species that presently pass through or live in the area.”
Clean up crews were also reported to have been on scene shortly after her report, treating the issue as “urgent,” but if leaks will be prevented in the future is unknown.