B.C. Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom has ordered a review of a fuel truck spill near Victoria that closed Highway 1 for 22 hours last weekend and resulted in a damaging spill into a salmon river.
Lekstrom appointed his assistant deputy minister, Dave Duncan, to examine the response to the accident, which closed the major transportation link on Vancouver Island and killed thousands of fish and fry.
The review will examine if the public could have been better informed about the highway closure, as well as safety issues related to the crash and if there were possible alternate routes around the crash site.
Questions have been raised about the safety of the highway itself and its suitability for tanker trucks, but Lekstrom said that's not the point in this review.
"Preliminary indications are this is not a road issue. This is a driver-error issue," he said.
The crash happened on a winding section of the highway about 18 kilometres north of Victoria, spilling 42,000 litres of gasoline and more than 3,000 litres of diesel into the Goldstream River.
Environmental damage being assessed
The Goldstream River area is a well-known hiking and camping spot and boasts a huge chum salmon run in the fall that draws thousands of tourists.
Area aboriginals used the chum for food and ceremonial purposes and the Goldstream River is a long-time spiritual site for them.
The extent of the environmental damage is still being assessed.
"The review is clearly focused on how could this issue have been dealt with more efficiently, if it could have been, and without jeopardizing the safety of the travelling public," said Lekstrom.
The company that owns the truck involved in the crash is offering to compensate drivers affected by the lengthy highway closure.
Columbia Fuels said an adjudicator will consider expenses racked up by drivers stuck on the highway when the only route up and down the island was severed Saturday.
The company also said it's working to clean up the mess that was caused when the truck flipped.