The Little Sackville River oil spill came at the worst possible time for wildlife in the area, says one local group.

 

Walter Regan, president of the Sackville Rivers Association, said Sunday’s spill would be a blow to the already threatened Atlantic salmon.

 

“This is a spawning time for Atlantic salmon, and since the (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) in Ottawa cut off the stocking program, the river lives on natural production,” he said. “So every time we lose Atlantic salmon eggs or nests, it has a really negative effect.”

 

Regan said the population generally thrives if water quality is good, but now the fish will detect the oil and leave the area for clearer waters.

 

Police believe someone deliberately sliced the line on an outdoor fuel tank behind Buddy’s Billiards in Lower Sackville, causing several hundred litres of furnace oil to seep into the nearby river.

Members of the Sackville Rivers Association were on site at the Little Sackville River yesterday, collecting water samples and assessing the damage.

“We’re here today checking for long-term effects, and unfortunately we’re finding some,” said Regan. “The regulator did a great job on the cleanup, but unfortunately the oil is still leaking into the river.”

Regan expressed frustration at whoever sliced the line.

“What a slap in the face for the 200-plus people who spend countless hours restoring the river,” he said. “It’s bad enough when a tank rusts out and we have an oil spill. This is preventable, 100 per cent. I hope the police have a successful prosecution.”

Regan said his organization will continue to monitor the river’s condition, identifying and reporting problem areas to regulators, adding there are some negative consequences -- including salmon leaving the area -- which may not be detected for several weeks.