Minister Announces Next Steps in Addressing Oil Seepage at Shoal Point
August 18, 2015
Taking Environmental Responsibility
The Honourable Dan Crummell, Minister of Environment and Conservation, today released Amec Foster Wheeler Environment & Infrastructure’s (Amec’s) preliminary findings regarding the assessment of the oil seepage at Shoal Point on the Port au Point peninsula and announced the Provincial Government’s next steps.
“I have always been quite clear that the first step in dealing with this issue was to determine why oil was seeping into the bay at Shoal Point and to obtain specific information about the cause and location of the seep. While natural seepage has long been documented in the area, we now have confirmation from Amec that there is also an abandoned well casing located below the surface of the shoreline. I have also been very clear that if it was determined that there was anything adding to the natural seepage, that this government would take action to deal with it. I am pleased to advise that this is exactly what we are doing and that this next phase of work, which will involve excavation to isolate the specific source of the leak in order to contain it, will now begin.”
– The Honourable Dan Crummell, Minister of Environment and Conservation
The report proposes a solution whereby the oil seepage area would be isolated from the sea water using a double culvert system. Excavation will take place inside the isolated work area to expose the top of the well casing. Further steps as to how to best stop the leak will be determined once the casing can be visually inspected and tested.
Amec’s report notes that the oil was seeping at approximately 1 litre per hour at the time of their inspection. Through the Environmental Science Table, Environment Canada conducted five flyovers. On June 11, the overflight report estimated the sheen at 1.2 litres and during the other four flyovers (June 18, July 2, July 14, July 30), no sheen was detected. Field inspections have also shown the oil was being released on an intermittent rather than continuous, basis.
“We are committed to ensuring a clean and sustainable environment for the health and well-being of the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador. Our actions clearly demonstrate this commitment.”
– Minister Crummell
Highlights of the report may be found in the following backgrounder. The full report is available online at http://www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/env_protection/Shoal_Point_Report.pdf
- On July 3, 2015, the Provincial Government awarded a contract valued at $47,000 to Amec Foster Wheeler Environment & Infrastructure to perform an assessment of oil seepage at Shoal Point, located on the Port au Port Peninsula.
- Amec’s preliminary findings indicate that the source of oil (which caused the sheen) is likely from an abandoned well.
- Observations indicate that the release of oil has been intermittent.
- The AMEC report may be found online at http://www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/env_protection/Shoal_Point_Report.pdf
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Director of Communications
Department of Environment and
Highlights of Amec’s Site Investigation of Shoal Point
Amec Foster Wheeler Environment and Infrastructure was retained by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador (Department of Environment and Conservation) to conduct a field investigation in order to provide recommendations for practical containment and remediation measures with respect to observed oil seepage on the western shoreline of Shoal Point on the Port au Port Peninsula in western Newfoundland. The oil seepage has resulted in an intermittent visible sheen on the water in the Port au Port Bay.
An area of oil seepage in the tidal zone of the shoreline was identified as the source of an oil sheen that was carried by water currents in the Bay following inundation of the seep area by tidal waters. A potential buried well casing was identified below the area of the oil seepage using a metal detector.
This sheen is emanating from an area located between two of the wells casings, where oil is seeping through soil comprising of clay, silt, sand, gravel and some cobble and small boulders. This seepage appears to be isolated to a single location in the intertidal zone. Bubbling is evident throughout the small pool where this seepage is occurring, indicating the presence of a gas release. The signal received by the metal detector at the seepage area indicates there is strong potential that the oil is originating from, or near, a fourth well casing that has broken off, or was terminated at the time of drilling, below the surface at this location.
Two options were presented:
- A double culvert option, which will facilitate oil containment and isolation of the oil seepage area from tidal water. This double culvert system can be constructed quickly using the tidal beach for transport of equipment and materials.
- Using a containment berm. While this option will allow for a larger and potentially drier work area, construction of a road will be required.
The Department and Environment is proceeding with the double culvert option which will allow for safe excavation of overburden and rocky materials above the suspected well casing and removal of contaminated liquids and solids for subsequent treatment and disposal. Once the well casing is exposed, casing integrity will be assessed such that the source of the oil seepage will be identified and the well will be sealed, preventing further oil seepage.
The full report is available online at http://www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/env_protection/Shoal_Point_Report.pdf