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Metrolinx denies diesel spill came from nearby train station

Metrolinx official says Allandale Waterfront GO station has special equipment to prevent, monitor and detect fuel spills; 'That equipment was inspected, tested and is working as intended'

Metrolinx disputes the City of Barrie's claim that a weekend diesel spill originated at the Allandale train station, which led to fuel leaking into nearby Kempenfelt Bay. 

The Crown agency, which manages the rail line, operates the Allandale Waterfront GO station, located a stone's throw from where the cleanup efforts continued Monday along the Barrie waterfront. 

The cleanup of the Southshore Park duck pond began Saturday after evidence of diesel fuel in the water became apparent. 

A city spokesperson told BarrieToday on Monday that, upon speaking with Metrolinx staff, “this spill occurred during refuelling of their trains.”

“The diesel entered the pond located between the Tiffin Boat Launch and the Southshore Centre through the stormwater system consisting of pipes underground that discharge to the pond,” Scott LaMantia said Monday afternoon. 

However, Metrolinx spokesperson Matt Llewellyn tells BarrieToday that the fuel trickling into Lake Simcoe is not coming from the Allandale Waterfront GO station. 

“We take this type of report very seriously and this weekend’s initial investigation suggests there are no indications the diesel came from any GO Transit stations or equipment,” Llewellyn said in an email. “We will fully co-operate and continue assisting the City of Barrie and the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks with their investigation into where this (contamination) came from.”

Llewellyn said City of Barrie officials notified Metrolinx about the discovery on Saturday of what was suspected to be diesel fuel in the lake.

City staff indicated it appeared to be coming from a stormwater sewer outlet and they asked Metrolinx to investigate whether it came from the nearby GO station.

“Allandale Waterfront GO station is equipped with special equipment to prevent, monitor and detect fuel spills. That equipment was inspected, tested and is working as intended,” Llewellyn said. 

When contacted by BarrieToday, Mayor Jeff Lehman reserved comment about the Metrolinx stance on the leak pending more information about the situation and where the fuel was coming from. 

“In terms of a leak into the lake, as you can see from the city's response once we were made aware of it, we do train and prepare for this potential situation, as rare as it is," Lehman said. 

It remains unclear exactly when the diesel spill occurred, how much fuel leaked into the lake, and how much the cleanup is going to cost.

The cleanup has been underway since at least Saturday morning and LaMantia has said "it will likely last a few days.”

Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition executive director Claire Malcolmson said the organization is always worried about the lake, but particularly in case of events like this.

"The province of Ontario has tagged the Lake Simcoe watershed to double in population by 2041. There will be more unfortunate events like this," she said. "This is why our Coalition of 29 local groups are constantly asking our municipalities, the province and the feds to not treat Lake Simcoe like a giant toilet.

“There needs to be some lake health in order to have the lake bounce back from serious events like this," Malcolmson added. "We would feel better about the situation if the province stopped adding to Lake Simcoe's pollution woes with its massive growth agenda." 

BarrieToday visited the scene on Monday morning and noticed there were visible signs of fuel on the surface as the water had a slick film on top. Typically full of ducks, geese and other wildlife, the lakeshore pond was empty of any wildlife, although there was waterfowl outside the berms. However, the duck pond had no ducks swimming as usual.