Lightning likely cause of oil tanker explosion

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St. Clair Fire Photo

While the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office hasn’t completed its report, lightening likely caused an oil tanker near Brigden to explode.

About 9 pm Monday, while thunderstorms were in the area, the tanker blew up at the corner of Brigden Road and Oil Springs Line. St. Clair Fire Chief Walt Anderson says neighbours watching the storm called 9-11 and said lightening had hit the tanker.

When fire crews arrived, Anderson says they worked quickly to make sure the 104,000 gallons of crude oil which spilled wouldn’t get to any nearby creeks.

“First when we got there, we isolated electricity because it was a electrical driven pump …and then looked at how big this spill was and where it was going. It poured rain and still was raining a bit when they got there.

“And in a farmer’s field next to it, which was tiled, they found the drain was pouring some oil into the ditch. So that’s when they ordered some sand from the township to come out and dam up the ditches before it got too far and headed towards the creek.”

Investigators from the Ministry of the Environment and the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office were at the well site on the corner of Brigden Road and Oil Springs Line Tuesday investigating.

The owner of the well has now brought in a cleanup crew. The oil that was in the ditches has been removed, says Anderson, however the oil that spilled onto the ground will have to be excavated and clean fill will be brought in. That oil-stained soil will be moved offsite – likely to Clean Harbors on Petrolia Line.

Anderson couldn’t say what the lightning strike would have cost the oil well owner adding the tanker was almost full with a pickup scheduled for the day after the lightening strike.