I liken the Lemon Creek jet fuel spill event to the term “shock and awe” used by the American military in the Iraq campaign.
The very fact that the ball was dropped as though Atlas himself fumbled and bumbled with insensitivity and dropped the earth is truly incomprehensible. Accountability and responsibility are paramount to prevention of this ever happening again.
The affected residents of the Slocan Valley and down river to the Kootenay and Brilliant dam are devastated by the myriad of repercussions felt and yet to be felt by this disaster.
The utter sense of hopelessness when we began to realize this is a disaster of epic proportions is evident in the resulting trauma of the valley psyche.
I empathize with friends and neighbours who are no longer able to reside in their homes, no longer able to drink their water, do dishes, laundry, bathe or recreate in the river they hold so dearly to their hearts.
Apparently the British Columbia government has coined a new phrase for their disaster relief centres: resiliency centres. I didn’t realize toilets and showers and potable water is that resilient given the fact that so many of the effected residents are without these resilient amenities.
I’ll tell you what is resilient though, the families and residents affected by the toxicity from the spill site to the Brilliant Dam.
Resilient, yes. Vigilant, yes. I and many of the effected residents are keeping a close eye on what is left of the river.
I’m still seeing a couple of white fish and the occasional trout I suspect are instinctively fleeing their upstream habitats from higher levels of toxicity that may be present closer to the spill site.
I’m hopeful the fry or tiny minnow type fish will make it. I’ll probably have a better idea by the end of the week. I’m somewhat skeptical though, as the kerosene sheen hangs like a veil of death on the rivers surface.
As the smaller fish that inhabit the surface disappear I would think it’s a result of the kerosene veil.
I fear for a very large beaver we observed practically daily pre-spill. After the spill we haven’t seen him.
Regarding the vapor from the jet fuel and my reference to kerosene, it is my understanding jet fuel is more or less refined kerosene. In our case there are areas of insects using the ground for habitats inclusive of solitary bees and tunnel spiders. There is still evidence of significant numbers of these insects present, thus it may be indicative our area that fronts the river may not have experienced significant impact from the jet fuel vapor. I do not claim to be a scientific expert, though I believe everyone’s observations have the potential to be of value.
On that note, I applaud the efforts of the Slocan River Streamkeepers and their efforts to enlist the aid of Katherine Enns, RPBio, M.Sc. as an independent eco-toxicologist.
Perhaps it is time to enlist the aid of our collective consciousness and will heavy fall rains, higher than normal snowpack, with the crescendo of a cleansing high water of 2014.
Paradise is not lost, the river will purge itself and it’s just a question of when.
Leonard G. Block
resident of Winlaw
Editor’s note: The Slocan River was opened two days after we received this letter.