Study would be needed to look at potential contamination of fish from fuel spill

PUSLINCH – As the snow melts, concerns regarding the safety of fish in the local watershed have been raised following the January fuel spill in Puslinch.

During municipal announcements near the end of the March 20 council meeting, councillor Jessica Goyda said she attended a Friends of Mill Creek meeting earlier that day.

At the time, members heard from a representative of the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) about the January fuel spill by Highway 401.

Friends of Mill Creek members were told remediation was delayed as a result of winter weather.

Goyda said the group was also told that with warmer weather, more work should gear up in the next month or so.

In addition, this is the start of a sensitive ecological time for the creek.

Goyda noted there was discussion as to how the GRCA is going to handle many of the impacts of the spill, including the Mill Creek Ranger program in the summer and potential fishing. “It was something I hadn’t thought of,” she said.

Goyda said she understood there would be testing to determine whether fishing would be allowed at all, or if there would be advisories not to consume the fish.

She added hopefully signs would be installed to advise the public of the decision based on test results.

Goyda said “we thought it might be a good idea to ask the GRCA that additional signs be placed throughout the township in areas where fishing might take place.”

Goyda hoped the director of public works could contact the GRCA about coordinating efforts.

GRCA communications manager Lisa Stocco clarified “any tests that have been or would be undertaken would be under the direction of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

“Under the Environmental Protection Act, the Ministry is the lead agency to manage the response in the event of spill.”

Stocco added the ministry has been sending regular updates to stakeholders, including the GRCA and Puslinch Township.

Councillor John Sepulis suggested the township may be overstepping its jurisdiction by getting involved in signs.

Councillor Ken Roth agreed, saying, “If the fish are unsafe to eat, every creek should be posted … but only after the test results come in.”

If fish are deemed dangerous for consumption, the township would work with the ministry to ensure the locations are posted – “It is their jurisdiction, not ours,” Roth stated.

Mayor James Seeley considered moving ahead with the discussion premature. He agreed the jurisdiction would be with the ministry and suggested council wait for a report from the GRCA.

The item was deferred.