Booms removed from Kootenay and Lower Slocan Rivers; 18 locals hired after yesterday's job fair
Executive Flight Centre is reporting that Kootenay and Lower Slocan River containment booms have been removed, and that upwards of 150 people attended yesterday’s job fair in Castlegar, with 18 people getting hired to help with spill clean up.
In an update released this (Thursday) morning, EFC said, “Quantum Murray removed the containment booms at the Kootenay (Brilliant) and Lower Slocan (confluence with Kootenay). There has been no detectable or observable product in these locations over the last few days and all data collected supports MOE and IHA’s position that the water in the Kootenay River is safe for people to use. Quantum Murray deployed boats and crews to collect the boom equipment and continues to take all appropriate steps to ensure the residual contamination is captured and removed to a licensed waste facility.
“This is a very positive step in the clean-up process and we look forward to sharing more information as it becomes available.”
The update also indicated a significant turn-out to a job fair held in Castlegar to seek additional workers for spill remediation efforts.
“On Aug.7, over 150 people from across the West Kootenays visited the Sandman Hotel to interview for positions with Quantum Murray. 18 people were hired and will begin work in the coming days. These employees will work with clean-up crews in a non-hazardous capacity and provide welcome relief to responders who have been on site for nearly two weeks.”
The update said the Slocan Resiliency Centre is drawing as many as 30 people per day.
“An increasing number of residents of the Slocan Valley are visiting the Resiliency Center at Winlaw Elementary. More than 30 people each day are accessing shower and washroom facilities, getting information, and speaking with disaster counselors. Staff at the Resiliency Center can provide a private place to discuss how the incident has affected residents and their families and provide direction and support to those who are affected. In addition, Interior Health Authority has Environmental Health Officers available daily from 1 to 3 p.m. on site to answer questions.”
The release also noted that Interior Health Authority has removed its DO NOT USE water restriction for the Kootenay River effective Aug. 6., meaning that water drawn from the Kootenay River may be consumed, and it is safe for recreational purposes (from a health perspective).
As for the clean up itself, the release said, “Quantum Murray is progressing with the clean-up efforts. The response effort continues to focus on those areas identified by the SCAT Assessment. Light “flushing” activities are being conducted by field crews with hoses and clean water. This allows responders to free product (Jet A1 fuel without additives) from streambanks and vegetation to make it available for collection. This process is working very well and allows the product to either be collected or evaporate – but may cause people in the vicinity to smell the jet fuel. IHA advises that this smell is not a health hazard at these levels. Containment booms remain at Perry’s Back Road Bridge and Winlaw Bridge and is capturing any free flowing product. The product is being skimmed off the water into a vacuum truck and removed to a licensed waste facility.
“In areas where soil is impacted, the soil is being removed and trucked to a separate licensed waste facility. A significant amount of contaminated water and soil has been recovered. Quantum Murray requests that, for safety and health reasons, people stay off the river and don’t collect samples. This can also delay the clean-up operation.
They said contractors are working with local agricultural producers to determine impacts to food grown in the area.
“SNC Lavalin experts, in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture, have collected vegetation and soil samples in support of the program of assessment for agricultural land. The Kootenay Organic Growers Society is also working closely with the various agencies on its members behalf. Results of these tests are still pending analysis.”
Anyone who may have questions about personal losses, impacts to property or livelihood, or other specific claims can call It is 1-800-880-8384, while an Executive Flight Centre toll free information line is now in operation. The number is 1-855-399-1694 and will be staffed daily from 8 a.m. To 4 p.m.