Teck Emergency Response Team in downtown Trail on April 10 after early sulphuric acid spill on the highway through the city. (Trail Times file photo)

Teck Emergency Response Team in downtown Trail on April 10 after early sulphuric acid spill on the highway through the city. (Trail Times file photo)

Changes made after two sulphuric acid spills in Trail

IRM changed its transport carrier and is shipping higher volumes of acid by railcar

Sulphuric acid – dangerous upon contact with skin – is a highly corrosive byproduct of Teck Trail Operations.

After 80 litres of sulphuric acid was recently spilled on the highway through Trail by Westcan Bulk Transport, the Times contacted Teck to ask if transportation changes have been made to better ensure public safety.

To clarify, 80 litres of sulphuric acid is the approximate total of two spills.

The first happened the morning of April 10 and extended the 16-km run from the Trail plant to the Waneta re-load station. The second acid leak occurred around 6 p.m. May 23 and stretched from the smelter through the city to Shavers Bench.

Immediately following the second spill, Teck Trail confirmed that Westcan Bulk Transport had been suspended.

Communications Leader Catherine Adair stated that, given the recent incidents, the company would be working closely with IRM, the owner of the product, to review its transport arrangements.

Since that time, IRM (International Raw Materials Ltd.) has made changes to both carrier and mode of transport.

“IRM has contracted an alternative trucking company, Trimac Transportation, to conduct trucking of sulphuric acid from the production point,” IRM Vice President Tim Mahoney told the Times.

“We have also positioned our own staff to supervise these operations directly to coordinate the transition and ensure the highest safety standards are met.”

Historically, the company loaded 15 to 20 trucks per day from the production site.

“We have reduced this by approximately 50 per cent,” Mahoney said. “And are shipping higher volumes via railcar from the Trail production site for the time being.”

IRM is committed to ensuring a safe and sustainable operation, he added.

“We are working with all stakeholders to ensure the safe and proper handling and distribution of the sulphuric acid produced in Trail.”

Immediately following second incident and Westcan suspension, Adair said production was unaffected as Trail operations had storage and IRM had alternate shipping options.

She clarified, “IRM takes care of transport and sale of sulphuric acid from Trail Operations.”

Westcan issued a statement following the first sulphuric acid “release.”

The company stated, “The release was quickly identified and our incident response team secured the area to assess the incident and begin the clean up process, with the assistance of the Teck Emergency Response Team.”

Westcan said, “We can confirm that there was no waterway or ground water contamination as a result of the release and do not expect there to be any long-term health, safety or environmental impacts.”

On Wednesday May 23, three firefighters from Station 374 Trail were called to assist Teck emergency response at a HAZMAT (hazardous material) scene, which started at Highway 3B and Rossland Avenue and continued to the west entrance of Glenmerry.

In both instances, Mahoney says the drivers visually identified the leaks.