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Underground leak caused Helena Street spill

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A boom has been strung across May’s Creek as part of efforts to contain a toxic chemical spill at the former Carvern Petrochemical site on Helena Avenue. Containment and clean up efforts are costing Niagara Region approximately $45,000 per day since the spill was discovered March 9.

Toxic chemicals discovered in a ditch in early March came from a leaking underground storage tank at the former Carvern Petrochemical facility on Helena Street.

A March 31 memorandum to Regional councillors made available to the public yesterday states high levels of contamination have been found in soil samples nearby but the extent has not been determined.

Ministry of Environment will analyze the results and decide whether soil will be required to be removed, states public works commissioner Ron Tripp in the memo.

Containment efforts have been ongoing 24 hours a day to drain millions of litres of melting snow and rain from the ditch at the site.

It is not known how much of the chemicals — toluene, xylene and acetone — have escaped to the waterway of the Kraft Drain which empties into May’s Creek.

Regional staff are confident the municipal water supply from the Rosehill water plant has not been affected.

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The storage tank has been drained and the property owner has engaged a service provider, while the Region has spent nearly $1 million at a rate of $45,000 per day on its own efforts to vacuum, store and dispose of the water since March 9.

The Region’s containment efforts will continue until contamination levels have reached a target established by the MOE which has also ordered a cleanup of the property and may follow up with charges against the owner, a numbered company.

Neighbours in the sparsely populated area have been allowed to come and go to their homes and businesses.

The street is closed to all traffic to allow for equipment and vehicles to move undisturbed and will remain so for an unknown length of time.

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