The failure of a piece of equipment called a “level sensor” in the Glenmerry Lift Station the morning of Aug. 8 is what led to 107 cubic metres of raw sewage spilling into the river near Rock Island.
“We take any incident like this very seriously and follow all provincial regulatory requirements very closely,” Frances Maika, regional spokesperson, told the Trail Times.
“The wastewater release was reported immediately to the Province of B.C. in keeping with our regulatory requirements as part of our permit to operate our facilities.”
Maika says the level sensor has been replaced and the system has been repaired and is functioning effectively.
Regarding “the lateness of the notification” noted in the U.S. Department of Ecology report (B.C. emergency response didn’t report the spill to the Americans until the following day), Maika clarified the statement.
“I want to emphasize that we follow all regulatory procedures closely, quickly and correctly and operate our facilities in keeping with all regulatory requirements and at very high standards,” she said. “We work closely with the Province of BC on any and all activities related to our wastewater and treatment facilities.”
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle, 100 m3 — or 26,400 gallons — of raw sewage was dumped into the Columbia River on Sunday around noon.
The Department of Ecology report, from the State of Washington, notes the raw sewage spilled into the river from the Glenmerry pump station.
Within the report it is written, ” … the Columbia River has a high volume of water due to the influx of water from the opening of a couple of dams upstream.”
The British Columbia Environmental Emergency Program, the arm of government responsible to alert downstream water users, notified the Americans of the spill on Aug. 9 at 5 p.m.
The U.S. report also notes the B.C. emergency program acknowledged “the lateness of the notification.”
The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) owns the Columbia Pollution Control Center (CPCC), which is located above Highway 3B in Trail. The Glenmerry pump house carries liquid waste to the CPCC, which is a primary level sewage treatment plant that provides regional wastewater treatment and disposal for approximately 14,000 people residing in the municipalities of Trail, Rossland and Warfield, as well as Oasis and Rivervale. Each of these areas retains the responsibility for wastewater collection at the local level.