Mark Walper, a City of Red Deer wastewater collection worker, overlooks booms placed to try to prevent spilled gasoline from contaminating Vanier Woods pond. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Mark Walper, a City of Red Deer wastewater collection worker, overlooks booms placed to try to prevent spilled gasoline from contaminating Vanier Woods pond. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Police are investigating suspicious gasoline spill that could have polluted Vanier Woods pond

Spill traced to a truck gas tank purposely drilled into in Laredo

A suspected gasoline thief drilled into a vehicle’s gas tank, causing a spill that drained towards a Vanier Woods retention pond.

The City of Red Deer was alerted at about 8 a.m. Tuesday by residents who reported the stench of gasoline in their East Vanier Woods neighbourhood.

Half a dozen city of Red Deer environmental services workers spent the rest of the day placing booms on the stormwater system to try to prevent almost a barrel of gasoline from eventually ending up in the Red Deer River.

“It’s really unfortunate, but we have a lot of good folks trying to deal with it,” said the city’s public works manager Jim Jorgensen.

He added the incident is being investigated by Red Deer RCMP because it is believed the spill is not accidental.

It was traced to a half-ton truck that had been left parked overnight on Lalor Drive in the Laredo neighbourhood, next to Vanier Woods. Someone appears to have drilled a hole in the gasoline tank, presumably to steal the gas, said Jorgensen.

The suspect could have been interrupted for most of the gasoline — some 120 litres, or nearly a barrel — went down the storm drain leading to the retention pond.

Jorgensen said one problem is the pond is still iced over, so it’s hard to know how much gasoline made into the water body, which eventually flows into a larger pond, and then the wastewater system that flows into the Red Deer River.

City workers have placed booms at both ends of the pond to try to catch the gasoline so it doesn’t flow any further. Jorgensen said there is no aquatic life in the retention pond, except for some native plants.

A worker with a hose and vacuum truck was also attempting to suck up spilled gasoline from a manhole to try to stop it reaching the retention pond near 20th Avenue and a popular walking trail on the east side of Vanier Woods.

Environmental Services is working with Alberta Environment to clean up the spill and minimize environmental impacts.

Residents in Vanier and Laredo continued to smell gasoline while clean-up efforts were underway on Tuesday. The city sent out a release stating that this spill is contained to the stormwater system so there is no risk to drinking water.

Red Deer RCMP say they are investigating a theft from the vehicle as well as “apparent vandalism to the vehicle’s fuel tank.”

Mark Walper, a City of Red Deer wastewater collection worker, said there were previous incidents of gasoline tanks being drilled into, but these were usually discovered before this kind of environmental hazard could result. He believes these incidents rise and fall with the price of gasoline, which has recently jumped.



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A City of Red Deer worker uses a suction hose to try to remove spilled gasoline before it gets into the stormwater pond in east Vanier Woods. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

A City of Red Deer worker uses a suction hose to try to remove spilled gasoline before it gets into the stormwater pond in east Vanier Woods. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).