‘You can’t drink it’: N.B. woman says water still tastes like gas, 50 years after spill

Originally posted on November 4, 2016


Cleanup is underway at the site of an environmental incident that dates back more than 50 years.

The New Brunswick Department of Environment confirms remediation is wrapping up at the site of a former gas station in Rogersville, N.B., but residents say it might be too little too late for their drinking water.

Anne Marie Docherty says there has been a problem with the water in her community for as long as she can remember.

“My dad would make his tea … there would be a film on top of it so you would spoon it twice before he would drink it,” she says.

Resident Ed Blackier says the problem dates back to the early 60s. He says fuel tanks at a local gas station ruptured, spilling gasoline.

“Even to this day, a lot of people have to cart water from out of the area for drinking and cooking,” says Blackier. “Some people have had enough contamination in the water that their clothes still smell.”

The Department of Environment confirms Irving Oil operated a gas station on the site until it was decommissioned in 1992. Remediation has been done since then, but Docherty says the water problem isn’t going away.

“It tastes like oil, gas or something,” says Docherty. “If you boil the water, there’s a film on top, gas or whatever it is, I don’t know.”

Crews are on site this week, cleaning up what’s left of the contaminated soil.

“The Department of Environment and Local Government opened a remediation file due to the petroleum contamination that was found on the property,” said the Department of Environment in a statement. “Irving Oil’s consultant has been carrying our assessment and remediation work at the site intermittently since 1992.”

The original cleanup satisfied the Department of Environment, but further contamination was discovered in 2009.

Additional remediation was done and Irving consultants have been monitoring the site and nearby wells since. They found no further petroleum contamination, until one well was identified earlier this year.

But Docherty says her well still hasn’t been tested.

“It doesn’t taste good. It doesn’t smell good and you can’t drink it,” she says.

The latest cleanup is expected to be finished by the end of the week. The Department of Environment says it continues to monitor the file to ensure the property is cleaned to acceptable standards.

Attempts to reach Irving Oil for comment were unsuccessful.

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