Ministry of Environment: Highway 401 transport spill posed no risk to natural environment

A load of fertilizer compounds spilled following the rollover of a tractor trailer on Highway 401 near Highway 38 on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. Photo by Cris Vilela.

Tuesday morning, a tractor trailer rollover closed the eastbound on-ramp of Highway 401 at Gardiners Road, spilling approximately 29 tons (29,000 kg) of fertilizer into the adjacent grassy area.

The spill occurred at around 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, and both the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks (MECP), and the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) were notified and called to the scene. Kingston Fire and Rescue, Frontenac Paramedics, and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) all responded to the initial scene, with Kingston Fire and Rescue remaining on scene for much of the day. The OPP indicated that no charges or arrests had occurred, but said that the investigation into the incident remained ongoing. The occurrence resulted in a prolonged closure of the eastbound on-ramp at Highway 38 (Gardiners Road).

“The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks takes all spills and threats to the environment very seriously,” said Gary Wheeler of the Communications Branch of the MECP. “Our role is to respond to spills, inspect the natural environment for potential impacts, and work with those responsible to make sure the effects are mitigated and appropriate actions are taken to protect human health and the natural environment.”

According to Wheeler, a very small amount of vehicle coolant and diesel exhaust fluid were also spilled at the scene.

“The fertilizer material spilled was a mixture of urea, potash and phosphorus, which is typically applied to agricultural fields. As the spill occurred on the dry grassy area adjacent to the on-ramp, we do not anticipate any impact to the natural environment,” Wheeler stated late on Tuesday.

According to Wheeler, the spilled material was contained at the scene, and cleaned up by an environmental company.

“The incident was reported to the ministry’s Spills Action Centre,” Wheeler reported. “Ministry staff attended the scene shortly after the incident to assess the nature of the spill and to ensure appropriate measures are being taken to clean up the spill.”

Ministry staff were on site throughout the day Tuesday, and well into Wednesday, as well. Wheeler confirmed that the MEPC had completed the clean-up work as of late afternoon on Wednesday, May 25, 2022.

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