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MONTREAL – As efforts to contain a major oil spill into the St. Lawrence River continued Wednesday morning, the stench of diesel permeated the air around the Suncor refinery in Montreal East.
One worker, his face covered, is using a vacuum-like apparatus to remove the fuel from the water as oil the colour of molasses extends about 500 metres down the beach.
The spill also was being contained with booms and Suncor officials said the leak at the former Petro Canada refinery at 11701 Sherbrooke St. E. has been stopped.
But Environment officials and Suncor are still trying to assess the extent and danger of what firefighters described as a “major” spill of diesel fuel near the Suncor plant in an industrial area of Montreal East.
Suncor spokesperson Michael Southern told journalists the spilled material was a mix “of diesel fuel and water” that was noticed at about 10:30 Tuesday night.
“We don’t know how much leaked at this time, but we are in the process of containing it,” Southern said. He added the source of the leak was still to be determined by an investigation by Suncor officials.
The spill was reportedly extending half a kilometre wide in the river.
Montreal Fire Department chief of operations Benoit Fleury said there is no danger to the public.
Suncor officials and Environment Quebec officials are now in charge of the cleanup, Fleury added.
Fire officials said they were called to the corner of Marien and Notre Dame Sts. on Tuesday night where they noticed the presence and odour of the unidentified substance.
Firefighters were deployed in boats to determine the size, nature and origin of the spill while waiting for officials from Environment Canada and Environment Quebec to arrive at the scene.
Montreal Fire Department operations chief Francis Ruest said the spill was located near port and oil refinery facilities in the area.
“Right now, we have personnel in boats out there trying to assess the size of the spill,” he said.
More details to come. -------------------------------HF&RV-------------------