Vandals, unapproved inspectors, plague Slocan Valley residents
So far, about 1,000 litres of contaminants have been skimmed off the water
The company overseeing the cleanup in the Slocan Valley in southeastern B.C. is warning residents about unauthorized offers to check air and water quality on properties around Lemon Creek.
Last week, a tanker truck hauling helicopter fuel overturned on a logging road, dumping 35,000 litres of fuel into the waterways.
Executive Flight Centre, the company that owns the truck, says Interior Health is responding to individual request for air and water quality checks, but is not going door-to-door.
Anyone offering such assessments is not part of the official clean up and should be asked for identification, the company said on Friday.
On Friday, the RCMP said they are also investigating a second night of vandalism after a tank holding clean water was twice knocked over.
The tank is in Crescent Valley, about 23 kilometres north of Castlegar, and is one of several at four locations along Lemon Creek, the Slocan and Kootenay rivers.
Police are searching for the vandals, although Executive Flight Centre says the damaged tank has now been replaced and is again dispensing water in Crescent Valley.
So far, about 1,000 litres of contaminants have been skimmed off the water into a vacuum truck as crews continue to work on cleaning up the area.
While the smell of jet fuel is still quite strong, responders say they haven't found any detectable levels of explosive gas.
No dead wildlife have been found over the past two days, but responders are still finding dead fish in some channels.
People are still being warned not to drink, swim or irrigate from Lemon Creek, the Slocan River and a stretch of the Kootenay River.
Executive Flight Centre says it has enlisted a team from Kirkland, Wash., to conduct a Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Technique known as SCAT.
Fear of contaminated farms, orchards
But some farmers and gardeners in the Slocan Valley say that's not enough and have asked for immediate testing to determine if the recent fuel spill has contaminated local crops.
A portion of the fuel evaporated into the air, and locals say it ended up coating their farms and orchards with an unknown amount of the potentially noxious substances.
At a community meeting in Winlaw, B.C., on Tuesday night, officials told residents that local food should be treated with suspicion.
Some residents think the warning only served to scare people, but this week, shoppers at a market in Nelson were reluctant to buy Slocan Valley food.
"We’ve been promised testing for our soil and the food here," says Shauna Teare, a resident who works with about 300 farmers throughout the valley.
"It needs to happen now. There is a heightened sense of urgency to get information to people."
With files from The Canadian Press