While enjoying a walk along the riverfront boardwalk one Sunday evening, the Riverkeeper was approached by a family alarmed at what appeared to be an oil slick flowing downstream from Halls Creek into the Petitcodiac River. As the minutes progressed, it became clear that the problem was worsening. Being a Sunday evening, attempts to enlist the aid of provincial and federal environmental emergency responders became nearly impossible (initial calls were unsuccessful and both the fire and police departments were unprepared for such an event).
The Riverkeeper proceeded by vehicle and then on foot along a muddy creek following the source of the oil slick upstream. Three hours later he finally tracked it down discharging from a large storm sewer outlet located along Humphreys Brook. By this time it was nightfall and a provincial environment official and City of Moncton public works staff eventually arrived at the scene, following pressures exerted on the federal environmental emergency responder on duty. The provincial officer declined to gather evidence of the incident so Riverkeeper proceeded to collect samples of this effluent, had the samples tested and the results were found to be toxic to fish.
An investigation ensued by the Department of the Environment and the City of Moncton, and the source was found to originate from a facility in the Caledonia Industrial Park, situated some five kilometres away. The City of Moncton was ordered to repair the sewer cross connections at a cost of over $300,000. No charges were laid against the owners of the facility where the oil spill originated. The City has since embarked on an extensive audit of its storm sewer system to identify and repair sewage cross connections. The results of these actions will have lasting beneficial impacts on urban stream water quality.