A large gas spill from an Imperial Oil storage tank in Sydney, NS, on Friday was caused by a front-end loader colliding with the tank, causing it to rupture, a company spokesman said on Saturday.
On Friday, approximately 600,000 liters of gas leaked from a storage tank at Imperial Oil. Nearly 60 homes were temporarily evacuated Friday due to the spill. No injuries were reported. The neighbors returned to their houses at night.
Imperial spokeswoman Keri Scobie said the company built a low wall around the spill to contain it and hopes to pump the gas into a new container on Saturday night.
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 that sort of thing. But that’s what we’re hoping for,” he said.
“We have environmental air monitoring that has been ongoing since yesterday, there is really no concern for the safety or health of the community.”
In an emailed statement Saturday afternoon, Cape Breton Regional Municipality spokeswoman Christina Lamey said Sydney residents can smell gas, but that’s due to a change in wind direction.
“Nearby residents may notice an increased fuel odor during this process,” he wrote. “This is because the liquid is going 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 alternative sources of supply to minimize impacts to customers.
On Friday, the Cape Breton Regional Fire Service called in an airport rescue vehicle that sprayed fire-suppressing foam on the gas.
Fire Chief Michael Seth said yesterday that after covering fuel with foam, the danger of fumes escaping or igniting is low.
Some local stations ran out of regular fuel
On Saturday, some Sydney filling stations ran out of regular fuel.
Robert Wilson lives four blocks from the spill. He tried to get regular gasoline from Irving Oil on George Street on Saturday.
“I went to Irving to get my paper and I put gas in the car and the only gas they have left is the expensive premium,” he said.
Jordan Macleod works at Esso on Prince Street. He said that a lot of people came there to get gas.
“I guess Irving ran out of fuel at this point,” he said. “Usually everyone goes back to the streets with us.”
A worker at the Shell gas station on Maillard Street, who declined to give his name, said they also ran out of regular fuel.
Imperial Oil’s storage facility remained locked down on Saturday. A fire truck was on the scene Saturday morning.
The far north residential neighborhood at the corner of Ortona and George streets is open.
Environment Department spokeswoman Tracy Barron said an inspector was assigned to the scene on Friday and will continue to monitor the scene.