British Columbia

New federal charges for 2013 Lemon Creek, B.C. fuel spill

In July 2013, a tanker truck overturned into Lemon Creek in the Slocan Valley in the Central Kootenay region, spilling more than 30,000 litres of fuel and prompting the evacuation of 1,500 people.

An overturned tanker truck spilled more than 30,000 litres of fuel into Slocan Valley creek in the Kootenays

Executive Flight Centre Fuel Services blamed the accident on the provincial government, alleging it received poor directions to the delivery point. (CBC)

The federal government has laid charges three years after a tanker truck spilled more than 30,000 litres of jet fuel into the West Kootenay river system.

On July 27, 2013, a tanker truck owned by Executive Flight Centre overturned into Lemon Creek, about ten kilometres south of Slocan Valley, B.C.

Some 2,500 people were told to evacuate their homes, a "do not drink" water advisory was issued, and residents voiced concerns around jet fuel fumes.

Last week, the federal government laid eight charges against the company under the Fisheries Act and the Environmental Management Act.

The truck driver and the province have also been charged.

The charges would not have been laid without the work of Slocan Valley resident Marilyn Burgoon.

Slocan Valley, B.C. resident Marilyn Burgoon took matters into her own hands in 2014, hiring a lawyer and laying a rare private prosecution. (Marilyn Burgoon/YouTube)

Two years after the massive spill and evacuation of her valley there were still no charges brought by the federal government.

Burgoon decided to take matters into her own hands — by hiring her own lawyer and making a rare private prosecution.

"It has cost us financially, but saying that, I'm glad I live in a country where we have the right to go forward as a private citizen and lay charges," she said.

In January, the federal government decided to take over the prosecution but later stayed the charges Burgoon had filed, saying it needed further environmental assessment.

Burgoon is relieved that the government has decided to issue the new charges.

"I'm pleased to see that the courts are taking seriously the impact on environment of toxins in the water," she said.

"There has to be consequences when people break the law. There certainly is for the average citizen."

In response, Executive Flight Services told CBC that "they have taken all steps to clean up fuel that was spilled and worked closely with the Ministry of Environment to ensure the river was returned back to its normal condition."

The first court appearance is scheduled for September.

With files from Bob Keating.