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Diesel being cleaned from Rideau River in Smiths Falls, local drinking water safe

Fire Chief Rick Chesebrough says up to 100 litres of a diesel-water mixture poured into the river, Thursday evening.
2021-05-07 rideau river map smiths falls
Map of Rideau River in Smiths Falls. Photo/ Google Maps

Tomlinson Environmental Services and the Ministry of the Environment are working to ensure that no diesel is left in the Rideau River after a spill in Smiths Falls.

Smiths Falls Fire Chief Rick Chesebrough says a call came in around 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 6, from a resident who could smell diesel in the water at Victoria Park, and could see a sheen on the water.

It turns out a mechanic at Le Boat had an accident on the other side of the river while preparing a vessel for the season, spilling about 75 to 100 litres of a water and diesel mixture into the river. Chief Chesebrough explains that one of the water lines on the boat got into the diesel tank and pushed diesel out the side of the vessel. 

The incident happened about an hour before fire crews were notified.

The chief says some absorbent booms had been put around the boat to contain the diesel, but it was quite windy. Smiths Falls firefighters put more booms into the water after being called to the scene. Their goal was to keep the diesel from getting into lock systems and spillway.

The ministry, coast guard, Parks Canada and Tomlinson Environmental Services were soon notified. 

Chief Chesebrough says Tomlinson has been on the scene for almost 24 hours, putting in additional booms and trying to extract the diesel from the water's surface.

The good news is that the spill happened downstream from where Smiths Falls' municipal water intake is, so that was not compromised.

The Ministry of the Environment is still investigating the incident at Le Boat.

Mike Vlasveld

About the Author: Mike Vlasveld

Mike Vlasveld, Digital Editor, CityNews Ottawa & the Valley
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