Trail Times file photo

IRM pauses acid trucking from Teck Trail

IRM suspended shipping sulphuric acid out of the smelter this week

Trucking sulphuric acid out of Teck Trail has been temporarily suspended after condensation was detected on a valve at the back end of a carrier last weekend.

“This is not a long cessation, it’s a voluntary cessation,” said Tip O’Neill, president of International Raw Materials (IRM), the American company that purchases sulphuric acid from the Trail plant.

“We are just really making sure we have identified what the issue is (through) a forensic investigation. We want to make sure that we have that nailed and that we’ve checked all other valves in our fleet because we just absolutely do not want to put the community at risk,” he told the Trail Times.

“And there was never any danger to the public or the environment.”

Read more: IRM updates acid transport

Recounting what happened to the Times, O’Neill said when a truck carrying sulphuric acid arrived at Teck’s Waneta train centre late Saturday night (July 20), the driver noted dampness on one valve at the rear of the vehicle.

“The truck driver and the unloader do a 360 inspection, twice, on all of the trucks,” he explained. “And they saw this valve with some moisture, so they immediately put a pan underneath it to catch any drops, but there were never any drops.”

Early the following morning, he says a spot was noticed at the acid loading site in the centre of Teck Trail operations.

“That was contained and washed,” O’Neill said. “And we immediately reacted, so in the abundance of caution, we had multiple sets of eyes going over the entire route for the truck, to identify any mark on the road that could have been a drip of acid, and tested it,” he emphasized.

“There were no positive tests.”

The company, however, immediately suspended transporting acid via highway from the smelter to Waneta, which extends 10 kilometres (km) on Highway 3B through Trail and approximately six km on Highway 22 to the train.

IRM averages about 100 railcars of acid shipments per month from the Waneta Reload Facility, equating to roughly 10,000 metric tons.

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