Emergency responders are scrambling to contain a nearly 20,000-litre spill of diesel into the Similkameen River east of Manning Provincial Park after a crash involving a fuel tanker truck.
The incident happened today in the Similkameen Falls area, south of Princeton and east of Manning Park’s east gate.
About 200 litres of diesel spilt by the trailer has been contained but environment ministry officials estimate 19,800 litres has entered the Similkameen River.
Cleanup contractor RAM Environmental has been hired by the tanker truck operator and the firm has staff on site pumping the remaining diesel from the damaged trailer.
Boats and containment booms are being deployed from Hope.
The environment ministry has environmental emergency response officers on site with more en route.
Additional experts, some trained in shoreline cleanup, will be part of an environmental unit that will provide technical guidance to the company responsible and the emergency response officers, according to a ministry statement.
Other agencies and jurisdictions have been notified, including the Lower and Upper Similkameen Bands and Washington State, and an overflight is planned to assess the extent of the spill.
As a precaution, Interior Health is advising residents who draw water from the Similkameen River downstream of the spill site to be on the lookout for signs of fuel contamination.
Residents and farmers are being warned not to use the river water if it smells or tastes like fuel.
Diesel fuel can pose a health risk following ingestion, inhalation and skin absorption. Residents who have private water sources that draw from the river, or from shallow wells near the river in the affected area are advised to avoid use of the water if they smell or taste fuel, or if they see a fuel sheen on the surface of the water.
Interior Health officials say they will continue to monitor the situation for any risks to the health and safety of residents in the area.
Red triangle denotes site of diesel fuel truck spill. (DriveBC map)