Shuswap fuel-and-glue spill forces Salmon Arm to shut primary water intake

The town of Salmon Arm was temporarily forced to stop using water from its primary intake on Shuswap Lake after several thousand litres of run-off containing glue and fuel products washed into the lake from a plywood plant just north of it.

Spill near Canoe Forest Products leads to public advisory warning against drinking or recreational water use

The city of Salmon Arm was temporarily forced to stop using water from its primary intake on Shuswap Lake following a run-off containing glue and fuel products from this mill (Brady Strachan/CBC)

The town of Salmon Arm was temporarily forced to stop using water from its primary intake on Shuswap Lake after several thousand litres of run-off containing glue and fuel products washed into the lake from a plywood plant just north of it. 

An advisory issued by the Interior Health authority warned the public to avoid boating, fishing or swimming in the area at least 300 metres off the log booms. It also advised people with private water sources from the lake to find an alternative until further notice.

Environmental officials are investigating, but on Wednesday afternoon health officials said it was safe to resume normal operations. 

Mayor Nancy Cooper says she's glad to hear the all clear from health authorities.

"Our water was not in jeopardy at any time. It was just a precautionary measure, so I was happy to hear that."

Still, residents such as Sue Kershaw don't want to take any chances with the water quality. She lives just down the road from the spill site at the Canoe Forest Product's mill, and she put up a notice at the local post office, warning her neighbours of the risks. 

Even though the water has now deemed safe to drink by health authorities, Sue Kershaw is posting water advisory signs around the neighbourhood. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

"Not supposed to happen in our own back yards, but it did," she said. 

Her neighbor Jocelyn Crouse is also taking precautions.

"All I know is that I'm going with bottled water for now."

The mill says the discharge of potentially contaminated water has occurred at its plywood plant in Canoe, B.C., but denies the accuracy of initial reports saying "thousands of litres" reached the lake.

The company says it takes responsibility for the accident, but didn't say how much was actually discharged.

Canoe says it takes responsibility for the spill. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

"We have established the origin of the water leak that led to this discharge and repaired the leak," said Marcello Angelozzi, Canoe's operations manager. 

"There is no longer any water being discharged from the plant. We are now working with provincial and federal agencies to determine what, if any, impacts there are as a result of this incident." 

With files from Brady Strachan

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