A tack oil sprayed on the milled road surface is usual practice in road laying, Clayton Hobin owner of C&C Road Maintenance said. On Aug. 6, an unexpected heavy rainfall interrupted the paving process on 11 Ave. East in Prince Rupert, causing the substance to drain into catch basins. Spill kits were used to alleviate the situation and subdue flow into the drains, Hobin said. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Oily rain runoff down the drain causes concern for Prince Rupert residents

Immediate action taken to alleviate any concerns, road paving contractor said.

Oil runoff draining into city catch basins and storm pipes from road construction raised concerns with some Prince Rupert residents on Aug. 6.

The situation was quickly stymied by the paving company responsible for the City of Prince Rupert’s capital road repair project, said Clayton Hobin owner of C&C Road Maintenance.

Concerns posted on social media and voiced directly to The Northern View described dark rust-coloured water running into catch basins at the intersection of 11 Ave. East and Frederick St. during heavy rainfall on Aug. 6, where road paving crews were preparing to lay asphalt.

It is usual practice and part of the road laying process to spray the milled section of road with a sticky oil coating, where the pre-existing asphalt has been removed, Hobin said.

Spraying the tack substance usually occurs approximately 30 – 45 minutes prior to laying new surface asphalt, which enables the hot asphalt to adhere to the milled surface at a higher standard, he said.

On this particular occasion the crew was unexpectedly caught out by a very heavy rainfall which did not permit the continuation of the road laying, Hobin said.

“In our case we had just finished spraying when it started to rain. What we did was put filter cloth in the catch basin to collect any product that would go down the drain. We tried to alleviate it as much as possible.”

Hobin explained a very similar situation, with a different road paving company, recently happened in Prince George where several cars were damaged by oil splashes when the area was hit with torrential rains.

“This happens when you are seal coating the highway sometimes. In that circumstance it is a lot bigger because you may have half a kilometre or a kilometre sprayed with the same product, and then you catch a rain fall.”

Hobin said he had spoken to the Ministry of Environment about the situation and no action would be taken as C&C Road Maintenance followed all correct procedures.

“We put spill kits out to collect any of it and alleviate as much going down into the system as possible,” he said.

“You don’t ever want any of that going down catch basins. You only want water going down catch basins, but it is not unusual. It happens in Vancouver, it happens all over the place. We try to eliminate any of that from happening – always.”

Veronika Stewart, communications manager for the City of Prince said the city’s paving contractors have been attempting to pave in available weather windows to complete the 2020 paving program.

Immediate mitigation was taken regarding the rain runoff during the downpour, she said.

“Filter logs have been placed on catch basins to prevent potential runoff from entering the catch basins, as well as covers and visual monitoring,” Stewart said.

“Inclement weather is always a risk to conducting our local paving efficiently, and our contractors are having to adjust their schedules given recent nasty weather patterns,” Stewart said.

“C&C is using an approved tack-coat product that is standard across the paving industry for this application as well as the overall 2020 capital paving program.”

The first-time contractor to Prince Rupert has been in the paving business more than 30 years with work in several provinces.

“With the amount of rain Rupert gets I’m sure it happens quite a bit,” Hobin said.

“We are now in the process of waiting for the sun. As soon as it quits raining we will pave,” he said.

The 16 member crew is lodging in Prince Rupert while the work continues. The project is on schedule and on budget, said Hobin and despite the inclement weather the paving should be finished by the contract deadline of Sept. 25.

“The community has been super-helpful and a real treat to work with,” he said.

READ MORE: Paving the road to not ‘shop local’

K-J Millar | Journalist 
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