Volume 93, Issue 44

Wednesday, November 17, 1999


Oil spill threatened Thames

De-ratification may surprise USC clubs

TAs and admin reach agreement

Quality of college education falls

Drugs and alcohol use on the rise

UN payment conditional


Caught on campus

Oil spill threatened Thames

By Stephanie Cesca
Gazette Staff

The Thames River was rescued from a potentially hazardous situation, after an oil spill occurred on campus late Monday night.

Dave Riddell, senior director of the physical plant at Western, said the oil came from a fuel storage tank outside the heating plant near the practice fields, behind Alumni Hall.

Riddell said although the physical plant is unsure why the spill occurred, work being done to the heating plant may have played a role. "We're still investigating the cause."

Riddell added this is not the first time campus has experienced a spill. "We've had other problems, but none as serious as this. [The oil] got into a storm sewer and it went towards the river."

He said the physical plant acted quickly and was able to prevent the oil from reaching and contaminating the Thames River. For now, the spill is under control. "We've got it pretty well cleaned up."

Insp. Bob Earle of the University Police Department said the police were notified of the spill at approximately 11 p.m. Monday night, almost two hours after the incident.

Earle added the UPD did not help with the clean up. "Our involvement was simply to [handle] the traffic control at the scene."

Bob Massecar, communications officer for the London district of the Ministry of the Environment, said the Ministry has guessed approximately 1,000 litres of oil overflowed from the storage tank.

Massecar said the Ministry was notified of the incident and was at the scene with the physical plant throughout the day yesterday.

"We were not physically involved in the clean up, but were on site to assist with the supervision."

The physical plant, Massecar said, acted quickly and handled the incident in a proper fashion. "One of our guys investigated it and found the university was very adequately dealing with the situation. It was an accident that could have been a lot worse."

Tony van Rossum, an environment services engineer at city hall, said the city usually handles oil spills of this sort. "The city has a spill trailer to try and capture oil which is in the creeks in London or the river."

However, in this situation, van Rossum explained, the city was not involved because Western is private property, even though the problem posed a hazard to the river.

"Some of the sewers at the university are private. The city isn't involved in that part."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999