Reports that a stream of the 35,000 litres of jet fuel spilled into Lemon Creek on Friday by an overturned tanker truck made its way down Kootenay River and possibly into the Columbia River, are being dispelled by BC Ministry of Environment (MOE).
According to the MOE the likelihood that the Columbia River was contaminated is minimal although the water is being monitored.
“There has been no evidence that jet fuel has reached the Columbia River,” said David Karn, media relations for MOE, in an email to the Trail Times.
“There remains a lot of work to do in assessing the river and this will take time to complete.”
However, further downstream south of the border the Washington State Department of Ecology, located in Lacey, Wash., has been notified by the ministry.
MOE is required to notify the U.S. by an agreement, called “CANUSWEST”, which was developed 20 years ago to mitigate the effects of oil and hazardous material spills on health and safety, environment and property on either side of the B.C./U.S. border.
“Further information has been provided (to the U.S) when and as requested,” said Karn.
On Sunday, MOE staff participated in a flyover and observed trapped jet fuel along the Slocan River in log debris.
Control points have been established in the Slocan River to capture any product that comes loose from further upstream, said Karn.
“The ministry will continue to monitor this situation long-term and ensure clean-up and remediation is undertaken by the responsible party,” said Karn.
Environmental disasters like the jet fuel spill call to question if the local regional district has an up to date plan to respond to hazardous material spills.
“We (RDKB) went through a compete plan revision in November 2012,” said Dan Derby, Emergency Services coordinator and assistant Regional Fire Chief.
Derby said that due to the remoteness of the West Kootenay, any incident, hazardous or not, is focused on an organized rally of local resources to ensure quick response.
“When we activate our plan, because we are rural, the issue is more about staffing,” said Derby.
He said that staff would be drawn from a pool of local governments because the regional district has to also be able to carry on “business as usual.”
Derby explained that part of the RDKB’s response plan is to manage resources, such as its truck fleet, that can be taken from another day-to-day responsibility to respond to the event.