A tanker truck has spilled up to 35

UPDATED: Slocan Valley evacuated after fuel spill

A state of emergency has been declared and an evacuation order issued after a tanker carrying jet fuel spilled its load into Lemon Creek.



A local state of emergency has been declared and an evacuation order issued in the Slocan Valley after a tanker truck carrying 35,000 litres of A1 jet fuel spilled its load into Lemon Creek Friday afternoon.

The evacuation, ordered by the provincial medical health officer and Regional District of Central Kootenay, now covers 800 meters on either side of Lemon Creek and the Slocan River from the junction of highways 3A and 6 at South Slocan to three kilometers north of Lemon Creek.

It initially only covered 300 meters on either side of those waterways but was expanded to three kilometers before being reduced at 8 a.m. Saturday. Residents living more than 800 meters away are now being allowed to return home.

Personnel from the Crescent Valley, Passmore, and Winlaw fire departments spent the night going door-to-door with the evacuation notice, assisted by local search and rescue.

Under the initial order, the regional district pegged the number of affected households at 800. It later increased to 2,500 homes, but has since been reduced. The evacuation was geographically broad for precautionary reasons, regional district information officer Bill Macpherson said.

“The concern is inhaling fumes hazardous to one’s health and the explosive nature of jet fuel,” Macpherson said. “It does dissipate fairly quickly. With any luck, this order will be short lived, but it’s hard to say.”

Officials now believe almost the entire tanker load of fuel was released into Lemon Creek and its tributaries.

“Jet fuel poses an immediate health risk to people,” EmergencyInfoBC said in a statement posted on their website. “Exposure can burn skin, inhalation can harm respiratory systems and may cause brain damage. It is also dangerous to consume.”

Emergency social services has arranged reception centres in Nelson at L.V. Rogers Secondary and Selkirk College’s Tenth Street campus as well as in Slocan at W.E. Graham school.

“People on the ground say the fumes are so strong it’s gagging them,” regional fire chief Terry Swan said.

The truck was en route to a refuel site for helicopters fighting the Perry Ridge wildfire when it went off Lemon Creek forest service road and landed on its side in the creek. Residents suggest it took a wrong turn, because the base camp was not accessed via the logging road.

RCMP were first to respond, but couldn’t get close due to the fumes. A hazardous materials team from Vancouver is working with other agencies to contain the spill, which is moving downstream. A two-to-three kilometer plume 30 to 50 meters wide is above the Brilliant dam, and crews are using a back eddy to contain it.

A Ministry of Environment official said Saturday they have staff on site and more en route, and have been providing air monitoring and technical advice on the containment and collection of the spilled fuel.

The tanker belonged to Calgary-based Executive Centre Flight Fuel Services Ltd., the ministry official said, adding they will be responsible for the clean-up. Nobody from the company was immediately available for comment Saturday.

So far there have been no reports of affected fish or wildlife, according to the environment ministry, but the regional district indicated the spill will affect water intakes below the Lemon Creek bridge. Residents within the evacuation area and within three kilometers of the affected watercourses have been asked not to use their water.

Further testing is ongoing downstream, although so far the regional district says sampling at several upstream junctions of the Slocan River has found little odour and relatively clear water.

Judy Derco of Lemon Creek Lodge said the incident happened around 3:30 or 4 p.m. Friday. The highway was closed for a while, she said, but motorists were later told to proceed at their own risk. Traffic is now being allowed to leave the valley, but not to enter.

Slocan resident Eric Winje who passed through the area this afternoon told the Star that a forestry employee on the Perry Siding bridge was watching for fuel coming down the Slocan River, which Lemon Creek flows into.

The fuel smell was very strong, Winje confirmed. “When we went across the bridge we rolled the window down and could smell it,” he said. “But we couldn’t see any sheen on the water.”

It’s not clear why the tanker tipped, but it remains in the creek. The driver was airlifted out with minor injuries, Winje said.

Lemon Creek forest service road is one of the access routes to Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, but was closed beyond a certain point due to washouts and slides.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

SD8 students can learn more about Métis culture, history, and language by participating in a variety of educational initiatives this month. Photo: Submitted
SD8 celebrates Métis Awareness Month

The district has a number of events planned in November

Numbers indicate positive COVID-19 tests, January through September. Map: BC Centre for Disease Control
Twenty-five cases of COVID-19 reported in Nelson, Castlegar and Trail in 2020

New data from the BC Centre for Disease Control shows numbers of cases per community

Boxers L-R: William Veroni of North Vancouver and Nelson’s Makalu Babott. Photo submitted
Nelson boxers compete in first pandemic match in North Vancouver

Match was conducted with no spectators and streamed to a live audience

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Most Read