For the second time in recent weeks, the NDP has blasted the BC government in the legislature over last year’s Lemon Creek fuel spill, questioning its “polluter pay” principle.
In the wake of last month’s discovery of eight lengths of absorbent booms in the creek, Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy asked if Executive Flight Centre, the company that owned the tanker truck that spilled, would face any penalties. Environment Minister Mary Polak declined to answer because of ongoing litigation.
“So much for polluter pays,” Conroy replied, noting that organic farmers affected by the spill last July are not expected to receive any compensation. “Polluter pays is meaningless if there is no ongoing supervision of the cleanup … There are no people going out and watching. It’s before the courts, but there should be ministerial people out there working.”
Conroy also said the Slocan River Streamkeepers, who have a long history of monitoring water quality, have found ongoing signs of pollution from the spill.
“I know that this has been just an awful experience for the community in and around Lemon Creek,” Polak said. “I can’t say enough about the community members and especially organizations like the Slocan River Streamkeepers and how they have participated and worked with us as a ministry. There is ongoing monitoring taking place and ongoing remediation.”
But Vancouver-West End NDP MLA Spencer Chandra-Herbert charged the BC Liberals were “all talk and no action” and that citizens found the absorbent booms ten months after the spill “because this government doesn’t pay attention to protecting the environment.”
The full exchange can be found here.
Meanwhile, a Ministry of Environment spokesman told the Star he wasn’t aware of any charges being contemplated against Executive Flight Centre under the Fisheries Act. Transport Canada, which also investigated the incident, said it “found the company was compliant with the Transportation Goods Act and regulations.”
The spill saw 33,000 litres of jet fuel intended for helicopters fighting a forest fire near Winlaw dumped into Lemon Creek, which then flowed into the Slocan and Kootenay rivers. It resulted in a mass evacuation of the lower Slocan Valley for one day and restrictions on water use that lasted two weeks.