Update: Vehicle removed  – Ministry of the Environment addresses vehicle remaining in Round Lake

Update (Tuesday, Jul. 26, 2022):

On Monday, Jul. 25, 2022, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) responded to requests for information on how it was ascertained that the vehicle removed from Round Lake in South Frontenac did not leak fluids into the water.

“The Kingston District Office received notification in the evening on July 21, 2022 from the owner of the vehicle that it had been removed and that there was no spill. Ministry staff also spoke with the contractor who removed the car and confirmed that the vehicle was removed from the water and there was no release or sheen observed,” Lindsay Davidson, representative for the Communications Branch of the MECP said in an email.

Davidson went on to address how the Ministry usually deals with incidents where a vehicle has become submerged in water in order to figure out if vehicular fluids have leaked into the water.

“When the ministry is notified of an incident such as this one, the ministry collects information from all sources available including those who have attended the scene, such as first responders, municipal staff, the towing company and the responsible parties,” Davidson stated.

“Ministry staff assess this information and determine appropriate next steps, which may include a site visit depending on the risk to human health or the environment.”

Update (Friday, Jul. 22, 2022, at 6 p.m.):

According to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), the vehicle that went into Round Lake on Sunday, Jul. 17, 2022, has been removed from the water.

The vehicle was removed from the water on the evening of Thursday, Jul. 21, 2022, however, the MECP did not relay that information during correspondence earlier in the day on Friday, Jul. 22, 2022.

“Ministry staff have confirmed that the vehicle was removed from the water on the evening of July 21, 2022,” Lindsay Davidson, Communications Branch representative for the MECP, said in an email just before 5 p.m. Davidson did not immediately respond when asked why he did not communicate this information earlier in the day.

Davidson further clarified some of the earlier outstanding questions: The owner of the vehicle is responsible for the costs of removing the vehicle from the water. Davidson did not say whether or not this was standard MECP procedure for such incidents. Davidson also clarified if and where members of the public might be able to find information on the procedures employed by MECP with regard to incidents involving the possible leaking of automotive fluids into waterways, or any other natural space.

“There are no official guidelines with respect to the removal of vehicles from water. When the ministry is made aware of such a situation, ministry staff will follow up to ensure the responsible parties are aware of their obligations under the Environmental Protection Act,” he relayed.

“Under the Environmental Protection Act there is a duty to mitigate and restore the natural environment.”

Despite that, Davidson did not explain how it was determined that no fluids were spilled from the vehicle upon its removal on the evening of Thursday, Jul. 21, 2022, saying only, “As a result of the removal of the vehicle on July 21, 2022, no spill was reported to the ministry requiring any further action.”

Asked who made such a determination, and whether or not someone from the Ministry needs to attend the site of incidents in order to make such a determination, the MECP did not respond by 6 p.m. the same day.

Kingstonist will provide further updates if/when more information becomes available.

Original article:
Five days after a vehicle went off Round Lake Road, over a cliff, and into the waters of Round Lake, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has responded to requests for information about why the vehicle remains in the lake.

A vehicle that went over a cliff and into Round Lake in South Frontenac Township remains in the water, a makeshift “containment dyke” floating around three sides of it. The vehicle entered the water on Sunday, Jul. 17, 2022 and remains there as of Friday, Jul. 22, 2022. Photo by Cris Vilela.

In the early afternoon on Sunday, Jul. 17, 2022, the vehicle careened off Round Lake Road and over the rockface between Lower Round Lake Road and Duff Road in South Frontenac Township. South Frontenac Fire and Rescue, Frontenac County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), and Frontenac Paramedics all attended the scene quickly, and it was determined that no one was inside the vehicle. Further investigation by the OPP led to the conclusion the vehicle was stolen; however, it had not been reported stolen by the owner “because the vehicle was not worth a lot of money,” according to Provincial Constable Curtis Dick.

After it was determined by the fire and OPP crews that no one was in the vehicle, and the vehicle had been checked for evidence by the OPP search and recovery team, South Frontenac firefighters – almost all of whom are volunteers – worked to secure the vehicle, ensuring it would not slip further into the water. The fire crews then constructed a floating dyke around the vehicle to contain any fluids that might leak from it.

“Fluids that leak from vehicles into the water tend to float to the surface,” explained South Frontenac Fire Chief Darcy Knott. “What we did was to construct a barrier so that those fluids would be as best contained as possible until the situation was dealt with.”

But just who would end up dealing with the situation?

“As far as I know, it is still under investigation, in regards to the vehicle,” said Staff Sergeant Marty McConnell of the Frontenac OPP.

“When it comes to the actual vehicle in the water, that is really something that you’ll have to communicate with the Ministry of the Environment about. They essentially take the lead on that.”

McConnell confirmed that the OPP had determined the vehicle was stolen, but directed further questions to the Ministry.

“Just as I wouldn’t want the Ministry of the Environment to comment on an ongoing OPP investigation, I can’t really speak to why the vehicle remains in the water, as that is part of the work the Ministry leads,” he said.

For multiple days, media relations personnel from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) did not respond to requests for information regarding whether anyone from the Ministry had attended the scene, and when/how the vehicle would be removed from Round Lake. On Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2022, the Ministry media relations team indicated they were “looking into it”; however, it was not until shortly before noon on Friday, Jul. 22, 2022, that a response was received.

In short, the MECP indicated that the removal of the vehicle from Round Lake will be the responsibility of the owner of the vehicle.

“The ministry takes all spills seriously. Our role is to assess any environmental impacts and ensure the responsible parties clean up the spill and restore the environment,” stated Lindsay Davidson, Communications Branch representative for MECP.

According to Davidson, the incident at Round Lake was reported to the Ministry’s Spill Action Centre on the day it occurred.

Since then, the MECP staff at the Kingston District Office have “been in contact with the registered vehicle owner to advise of their responsibility to have the vehicle removed from the water,” Davidson said.

“The fire department have placed containment booms around the vehicle,” Davidson relayed. “We remain in contact with the vehicle owner who is currently preparing a plan to have the vehicle removed as quickly as possible.”

Asked if the vehicle owner is responsible for the fees associated with the removal of the vehicle; if the owner of a vehicle is always responsible for having that vehicle removed from the water; whether there is a deadline given to the vehicle owner by which the vehicle must be removed from the water; whether the MECP will carry out assessment and/or remediation or clean-up work following the removal of the vehicle; and where members of the public can find guidelines around such processes from the Ministry, Davidson was not able to immediately respond.

Currently, the vehicle remains upside down in Round Lake with makeshift containment barriers surrounding it on one side, the front, and the back.

Photo by Cris Vilela.

Kingstonist will provide more information if/when the MECP responds.

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2 thoughts on “Update: Vehicle removed  – Ministry of the Environment addresses vehicle remaining in Round Lake

  • July 23, 2022 at 7:28 am
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    Hey folks. I’m sure someone has already mentioned this, but your article refers to the wrong Round Lake. Your map and description refer to a lake near Renfrew. The Round Lake you’re talking about lies between Inverary and Battersea. Please update your article and map. You’re way off.

    • July 26, 2022 at 9:21 am
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      Hi there, Les,

      Thank you for pointing this out. The article has since been updated to reflect the correct location precisely.

      -Tori Stafford

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