Environment miniser Mary Polak touched down in the Slocan Valley Friday to get a sense of the jet fuel spill into Lemon Creek and the subsequent effects.
The BC politician representing the riding of Langley toured the original crash site and visited several locations downstream before meeting with directors from the Regional District of Central Kootenay.
Polak’s goal was to achieve a greater understanding of what occurred, the resulting clean-up effort and what is still ongoing, she said.
“Certainly there’s been a tremendous amount of work done — painstaking to the point of going through and literally lifting up as many individual rocks that could be managed all the way down the water course so they could be cleaned of whatever remaining product was there,” she said.
When asked by 103.5 The Bridge if she was satisfied with what she saw, Polak returned to the issue of how the crash happened. It’s important to still be evaluating how this all unfolded to prevent future accidents, she said.
“When there’s a hazardous waste spill we always want to debrief after the fact,” she said.
Her ministry will continue to oversee monitoring in the hands of the company responsible for the spill and locals working with them, she said. Community members have taken on the task of changing absorbing materials in booms regularly and reporting back how much hazardous material is still being collected.
“It’s not perfect yet but we know from the monitoring that’s taking place that there’s a consistent lessening of product they’re seeing in the absorbent material in the booms.”
Polak didn’t meet with affected residents but spent “significant time” with regional directors and during those discussions they conveyed residents’ experiences, she said.
“What concerns them the most is they want to know that they are getting accurate information as quickly as possible,” she said.
Polak’s visit comes well over a month after the crash that sent 33,000 litres of jet fuel into Lemon Creek after a tanker overturned on a logging road. She says coming sooner “likely would not have been productive” causing distraction from the crisis at hand. Touring the area now when there’s hard information compiled means experiences can be more accurately conveyed, she said.
The minister commended those on the ground, the first responders and said she was impressed with how people handled the obstacles encountered. She also praised residents for they way they supported others in their community.
Premier Christy Clark appointed Polak environment minister in June.