UPDATE: Evacuation order lifted, water restrictions in place
From the EOC at 3 p.m.:
Analysis of numerous air, water and soil samples by agencies working collectively on the impacts of the Lemon Creek fuel spill have determined that the evacuation order issued yesterday can be lifted and Highway 6 reopened, effective immediately.
Nearly 600 residents who have been out of their homes since yesterday – staying with friends, family or at one of three reception centres established by Emergency Social Services – will be able to return home.
A 24 hour restrictive order for persons obtaining their drinking water or water for irrigation purposes from surface sources is still in effect.
The RDCK Emergency Operations Centre has issued the following update:
As of 8 a.m. this morning, the evacuation order geographic area has been reduced following the tanker spill in Lemon Creek.
Highway 6 remains closed between Highway 31 and Highway 3. The north and south evacuation order boundaries remain unchanged. Residents living further than 800 metres from water courses will not be under an order; if they have gone to a reception centre they can return when able to do so. For now, those evacuated are asked to remain in place until Highway 6 is reopened.
The Vancouver HAZMAT team is working with other agencies and crews at containing the spill which is moving downstream. A two to three kilometre plume 30 to 50 metres wide is above the Brilliant Dam and crews are using a back eddy to contain it. Further testing downstream is ongoing, although sampling and visual evidence of air and water at several upstream junctions with the Slocan River indicate little odour and relatively clear sampling. More sampling of air and water at multiple spots is ongoing.
A ‘do not use’ water order remains in place for water users within the evacuation order area and within three kilometres of water courses
It has been determined that almost all of the tanker load – approximately 35,000 litres – was released into Lemon Creek and downstream following the accident. Crews employed by the company are determining expedient removal options for the tanker.
Ongoing interagency efforts continue unabated and it is hoped that acceptable sampling results will enable Highway 6 to re-open and the evacuation order removed as quickly as possible..
Update: The provincial medical health officer has expanded the evacuation order to three kilometres (expanded from the original 300 metres) from Lemon Creek and its tributaries, due to potential neurological damage from fumes. Hasmat response team is en route and should be on the ground by 3 or 4 a.m. Emergency social services have set up reception centres at LV Rogers in Nelson, WE Graham in Slocan, and Mary Hall, Selkirk College, Nelson campus. As many as 3,000 households under evacuation order.
This from EOC spokesman Bill Macpherson.
The Regional District of Central Kootenay has declared a state of local emergency after a tanker truck carrying roughly 35,000 litres of jet fuel went off the road and into Lemon Creek in the Slocan Valley.
RDCK Emergency Operations Centre spokesman Bill Macpherson says first responders are unable to get very close, due to the overpowering fumes, but was able to confirm the truck was in service to assist the fire fighting efforts involving two fires in Perry Ridge, about 4.5 kilometres from Winlaw, one of which has burned over 40 hectares.
“We don’t have full details yet – they’re coming in as we speak,” Macpherson said.
“Downstream residents are advised to be cautious about drinking water, and there is always the possibility of an explosion in confined space,” Macpherson said. “If there is a fuel smell, open your windows and leave the house.”
He said the RDCK has declared a state of local emergency and one residences near the crash site needed to be evacuated.
An evacuation order has been issued for area from Junction of Highway 6 and Highway 3A to three kilometres north of Lemon Creek.
Issued by RDCK and province through regional medical officer.
“Precautionary more than anything,” says Macpherson, EOC with RDCK.
“Specific to residents who live within 300 metres of water bodies within that area, ie Lemon Creek and Slocan River. Smaller tributaries also apply.”
Castlegar fire chief Gerry Rempel says they have requested Castlegar’s environmental spill containment trailer, which is en route.
Motorists travelling on Highway 6 south of Lemon Creek shortly after said they could smell fumes near Threads Gill, five kilometers from the highway crossing of the creek.
Jet fuel could also been seen floating on the top of the Slocan River by the bridge crossing at Perry Siding north.