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Prince Edward County remains under a state of emergency after a partially sunken barge started leaking an undetermined substance, which floated close to the Picton-Bloomfield Drinking Water System's intake pipe.
Canadian News | Prince Edward Island

Very unfortunate: Sunken barge prompts H2O crisis in Picton

Digital writers

Thursday, March 30, 2017, 5:08 PM - Prince Edward County remains under a water emergency after fuel leaking from a partially sunken barge floated close to the Picton-Bloomfield Drinking Water System's intake pipe.

The emergency was declared Tuesday, and the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit took a further step Thursday by issuing a boil water advisory, and the county will truck in potable water from other sources.

"Since varied water supply trucks will be used to shuttle water, the Boil Water Advisory is being implemented as a precautionary measure to reduce the risk from the possible introduction of bacteria to the drinking water system," the latest release from the county reads.

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The Coast Guard says about 30 litres of residual oil was released into the water. The system was temporarily shut down as a precaution Tuesday. The plant resumed operations Wednesday morning, but was soon shut down again after the "discovery of a foul odor in the Picton raw water sampling line (an early warning system)," the county says. 

The barge arrived in Picton from Toronto on Thursday, but by Friday morning the bow had sunk beneath the waterline, leaving the stern still afloat. A fuel sheen was observed in the area, and booms were deployed. 

Authorities say it contains about 1,200 litres of fuel and 100 litres of hydraulic fluid, but the coast guard says the risk of further contamination is low.

Dusty MacKinnon

You can smell it, and see it. And a lot of it. MacFarland conservation area just outside picton. We just took these at 5pm today march 28th 2017

"The remaining diesel and oil on the barge is in double-walled, self-contained tanks and the integrity of the hull is not compromised," the coast guard says. "The pollutant released was residual oil and no further release has occurred since Friday."

Picton Terminals owner Hank Doornekamp told The Weather Network efforts to raise the barge had been complicated by the fact it was located further from the shore than the on-site crane could reach, requiring the deployment of a larger crane from Toronto.

"That crane is now on site, and this afternoon we're hoping to tie onto it and see what we can do," he said.

Doornekamp said there had been rumours going around that the barge had been carrying trucks and other materials, and stressed that this was not the case.

"We are transporting truckloads of materials on a similar sized barge to Amherst island," he explained. "As soon as this incident occurred, social media allowed itself to assume that that was the barge that went down, to create a little more alarm, of course."

Michael David Hymus

Public Alert | Submerged Barge in Picton Bay Leaking Oil - Please Share --> To add to the already nightmarish situation of literally tons of salt pouring into the Picton Bay the County is now facing...

A spring storm arrived Thursday into Friday for southern Ontario and could pose a problem for officials, as the booms are not designed to perform in choppy waters.

"Sustained winds of up to 40 km/h are expected for the area, with some gusts over the lake approaching 50-70 km/h," says The Weather Network meteorologist Matt Grinter. "This may cause large waves and choppy waters to develop."

SOURCE: Prince Edward County | Canadian Coast Guard | CBC | Thumbnail

With files from Leeanna McLean, Daksha Rangan and Daniel Martins.

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