Front-end loader colliding with storage tank caused Sydney gas spill, company says

·3 min read
The Imperial Oil storage facility in Sydney, N.S., remained blocked off Saturday. A fire truck was on the scene in the morning. (Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit)
The Imperial Oil storage facility in Sydney, N.S., remained blocked off Saturday. A fire truck was on the scene in the morning. (Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit)

A large gas spill from an Imperial Oil storage tank in Sydney, N.S., on Friday was caused by a front-end loader colliding with the tank, which caused it to rupture, a company spokesperson said Saturday.

On Friday, roughly 600,000 litres of gas leaked out of a storage tank at Imperial Oil. Nearly 60 homes were temporarily evacuated Friday because of the spill. No injuries were reported. Residents returned to their homes in the evening.

Imperial spokesperson Keri Scobie said the company has built a low wall around the spill to contain it and expects to be pumping the gas into a new container by Saturday evening.

Scobie said the company expects it will take 24 hours to remove the spilled fuel.

"It will just depend on how the pumps work and those sorts of things. But that's what we're hoping for," she said.

"We've got environmental air monitoring that's been ongoing since yesterday, there really is no safety or health concern for the community."

Gas smell

In an emailed statement on Saturday afternoon, Cape Breton Regional Municipality spokesperson Christina Lamey said Sydney residents may smell gas, but that's because of a change in wind direction.

"Nearby residents may notice an increased smell of fuel during this process," she wrote. "This is because the liquid is moving back into a holding tank and the wind direction has changed since yesterday."

Scobie said it's unclear how long the fuel terminal will be closed, but said the company is working on alternate supply sources to minimize impacts to customers.

On Friday, the Cape Breton Regional Fire Service called in an airport rescue vehicle that sprayed foam fire suppressant on the gas.

Fire Chief Michael Seth said yesterday that after the fuel was covered with foam, the danger of the fumes escaping or igniting is low.

Some local stations ran out of regular fuel

On Saturday, some Sydney gas stations were out of regular fuel.

Robert Wilson lives four blocks away from the spill. He tried to get regular gas from Irving Oil on George Street Saturday.

"I went up to Irving to get my newspaper and gassed up the car and the only gas they have left is the expensive premium," he said.

Jordan Macleod works at the Esso on Prince Street. He said a lot of people were coming there to get gas.

Tom Ayers/CBC
Tom Ayers/CBC

"I guess Irving's out of gas right now," he said. "Usually, everyone just resorts back to the street to us."

A worker at the Shell gas station on Maillard Street, who declined to provide their name, said they were also out of regular fuel.

The Imperial Oil storage facility remained blocked off Saturday. A fire truck was on the scene Saturday morning.

The north-end residential neighbourhood on the corner of Ortona and George streets is open.

Department of Environment spokesperson Tracy Barron said an inspector was assigned to the scene on Friday and will continue to monitor the scene.


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