By the time Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs was briefed by Teck about the company’s chemical spill of 25,000 litres of sodium hydroxide into the Columbia River, word had leaked to the media and the four-term politician was left to answer questions from media outlets as far away as Ontario.
In response to the un-timeliness in relaying pertinent information to the city, council agreed to send a letter to Teck requesting a meeting with Greg Belland, manager of Trail operations, and Richard Deane, the plant’s environmental and health and safety manager.
“I was phoned by Greg Belland Friday afternoon about the spill from the acid plant area,” said Bogs. “This happened fairly late in the afternoon and I should have known by that time because it was already in the news,” he explained. “And of course over the weekend I was phoned by the Globe and Mail for comments.”
At the time, Bogs could not elaborate on the events to the media aside from details Teck outlined in its news release.
“All I could say was that I was notified and investigations are taking place,” he said. “This is a serious spill and I am concerned about it so we will be hearing more, no question about that.”
The spill occurred Jan. 28, in the area where the new acid plant is being prepared for start up, and a result of modifications that were made in 1999, according to Bogs.
“They’ve spent considerable money to separate the sanitary system,” he explained. “It was very unusual and had not been picked up in previous surveys.”
Teck maintains that once the chemical was diluted into the river, impacts to aquatic life were minimal.
“We need to hammer out a protocol so if anything happens again, even if it is relatively minor, at least the mayor should be notified,” said Coun. Robert Cacchioni.
Coun. Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson agreed, adding, “everybody heard about it and saw it all over the news which doesn’t shed a good light on Trail and what we are all about here.”