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Source of hydrocarbon sheen in Rolla still undetermined

Remediation work expected to start by week's end
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A hydrocarbon spill reported May 6, 2022 in the Rolla area is being investigated by Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy officials. Investigators have yet to find a source.

The Ministry of Environment continues its investigation into a hydrocarbon spill alongside a section of road in Rolla.

Reported Friday, the spill produced a rainbow-coloured sheen and a strong odour that lingered throughout the community well into the weekend.

“The odour is a hydrocarbon. It kinds of smells like diesel,” said emergency environmental response officer Jennelle Cowen Tuesday afternoon. “We are, however, waiting for sample results to confirm that.”

“Hydrocarbons, when on water, usually produces a sheen. It can behave differently depending on the concentration, but it is strong smelling,” added Cowen.

The sheen was discovered in a ditch on a stretch of 405 Street, however, its origin still isn't known.

“Sometimes with spills like this, it's hard to determine a source, especially if it wasn't reported (directly) to us. That's part of the ongoing investigation, to find out where it came from.”

The investigation also has yet to determine how far the sheen might have travelled or the actual amount of product.

Once the hydrocarbon is determined by the lab, the next step will be remediation, the removing of contaminated soil and vegetation.

“Typically, the ministry has a 'polluter pay' principle," said Cowen. Normal circumstances, when we know where the spill came from and who caused it, they would be responsible for clean-up but in this situation, because we don't have a known responsible party, we along with our contractor do the clean-up and remediation.”

The hope is to have work started within the next day or two.