Documents provide insight into cause of 2022 oil spill at Algoma Steel
A recent arbitration hearing is providing more details of what led to a major oil spill at Algoma Steel in June 2022.
According to the transcript of a related arbitration hearing, about 20,000 litres of oil spilled into the St. Marys River on June 9.
In a statement at the time, Ontario's Ministry of the Environment (MOE) said the substance that spilled into the water was 'Morgoil,' a heavy oil used for lubrication of heavy machinery.
“The spill prompted a drinking water advisory from Algoma Public Health,” the court documents said.
“The Community of Echo Bay’s water treatment plant was shut down for 18 days as a result of the spill, ultimately requiring drinking water to be trucked in. The cost of remediation to the company was significant.”
Investigation into the spill is ongoing by MOE, Conservation and Parks, as well as the Department of the Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Charges against the company are still possible, the documents said, while shedding light on how the incident occurred.
“The spill occurred because the oil pump could be switched on and operated without supervision,” the transcript said.
“Consequently, when a contractor left a valve open somewhere in the network of pipes, one of the tanks overflowed, causing the spill.”
A day after the spill, June 10, the company issued new procedures for filling the oil tanks aimed at preventing a similar occurrence.
“Specifically, two persons are now required for the procedure, one of whom has to continually press the button to let the oil flow and the other must stand by the operating tanks to indicate when they are full,” the transcript said.
The arbitration hearing was held to challenge discipline the company handed down to an employee who had violated the new protocols.
Specifically, the union wanted the company to wait to hand down discipline until its grievance is heard, something the arbitrator rejected.
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