Emergency response to a potentially devastating fuel spill into the Similkameen River last Monday was swift and efficient, according to Kandis Lipsett, who led the clean up efforts for the provincial environment ministry.
“So far the coordination has been great,” said Lipsett, an environmental emergency response officer based in Penticton.
“Something like this it all depends on the actions of the responsible party and how long it takes them to initiate response.”
Water samples taken along the river have shown no levels of contamination, she said, and fish caught near the area of the spill are not exhibiting any unusual behaviors.
Approximately 20,000 of diesel fuel spilled into the river when a trailer plunged over an embankment near Similkameen Falls.
RCMP Sergeant Barry Kennedy said police are still investigating the cause of the mishap, however “there are initial indicators that speed might be a factor.
“It appears that the pup trailer somehow disengaged from the main trailer and went over the embankment.”
The driver, a 45-year-old man from Vancouver, was not injured.
About forty experts from various affected agencies have worked on the clean up operations, according to Lipsett.
Lipsett said about 13,000 litres of the spill has been recovered using containment booms which sit on top of the water and absorb chemicals.
A boom just west of Princeton and another near Bromley Rock are being monitored daily.
Interior Health issued a warning for river water users south of the spill shortly after it was discovered.
However Town of Princeton officials were quick to reassure the public that the spill would not impact municipal water quality. Princeton is watered by wells, which draw from aquifers.
The town issued press releases and posted updates to its website.
“Right at the outset we got it out there that it didn’t really impact the town’s water supply so people didn’t seem to be too concerned” said CAO Rick Zerr,
The only river intake was determined to be Copper Mountain Mine, which had to cease drawing water immediately. According to Zerr the mine hired a water contractor to hook up to Princeton wells and truck water to the mine for several days.