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No environmental risk from oil spill at McLean Mill, says consultant

Terrawest Environmental concludes ‘end of spill’ report at national historic site
A picture of the spill area on Oct. 30, 2020. (SCREENSHOT)

An environmental consultant says that an oil spill at McLean Mill National Historic Site has been cleaned up, and the spill no longer presents a significant environmental risk.

TerraWest Environmental was contracted by the City of Port Alberni back in October 2020 to respond to a spill of more than 6,000 litres of Bunker C oil at the national historic site. The oil, which was historically used by the city’s No. 7 steam engine, was being stored in a steel rail car on a rail spur.

READ MORE: McLean Mill oil spill cleanup cost exceeds $1M

On Jan. 13, 2021 TerraWest released an “End-of-Spill” report, which has been submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

TerraWest states that shallow groundwater and surface water at the spill site were impacted, but none of the spilled product entered any stream, lake or wetland. Biologists did not identify any impacts to the fish habitat.

During remediation, three 50-metre lengths of onsite rail tracks were removed, as was an historical “dip tank” building. Some vegetation also had to be removed.

More than 2,000 tonnes of soil was excavated and disposed of, while approximately 175,000 litres of surface water and sludge was also disposed of.

TerraWest does not recommend any further remediation work, but does recommend monitoring the impacted groundwater within the excavation.

“Spilled product has been recovered,” the report concludes. “The spill no longer presents a risk of significant environmental concern at this time.”

So far, cleanup of the site is estimated at $1.25 million for the city. Insurance will only cover up to $100,000, so city staff is looking for other funding sources in the meantime.

The full report is available to view on the city’s website at

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Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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