Oil spill at Churchill Falls in October released roughly 45,000 litres of oil: Nalcor

Gary Locke/CBC
Gary Locke/CBC

An oil spill at the Nalcor Energy Churchill Falls switchyard in late October released roughly 45,000 litres of oil, the company said in a media release on Thursday, as it continues to work on clean up.

The spill was caused by a transformer failure and fire, the company maintains, but while Nalcor at the time said the transformers hold 53,000 litres of oil, they actually hold 111,400 litres, according to Thursday's release.

Nalcor said 65,000 litres of oil were recovered in tankers in the switchyard, and an unknown amount of the oil spilled was consumed by the fire.

"Priority continues to be employee safety and the safe containment, control, and recovery of oil. Absorbent materials, booms, and vacuum trucks are being utilized for containment and collection," reads the company's statement. "We continue to see no visible evidence of oil in the Churchill River."

In October, Nalcor said the oil used in the failed transformer was voltesso — an oil that is inherently biodegradable as opposed to readily biodegradable, meaning it will break down over time but the timeline is indefinite.

However, Nalcor says now the oil spilled was actually luminol, which is readily biodegradable.

"Luminol is more environmentally friendly and has a higher rate of biodegradability than voltesso," says Nalcor's statement.

"Significant efforts continue to be made by the Churchill Falls team who has been safely working together in these recovery and collection efforts with dedication and commitment since the onset."

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