Cleanup crews work to remove a wedged semi-truck above Spuzzum Creek last Tuesday.

Cleanup crews work to remove a wedged semi-truck above Spuzzum Creek last Tuesday.

Spuzzum truck debris cleaned up

Wreckage near local swimming hole removed after nearly a year-and-a-half

The truck wreckage from a 2010 accident has finally been removed from a popular swimming hole on the Spuzzum First Nation reserve.

Debris was left in and around Spuzzum Creek for  almost a year-and-a-half as government officials debated whose responsibility it was to clean up the environmental hazard.

“It’s very exciting. It’s about time,” said Chief Jim Hobart last Thursday.

“They’re removing the truck debris, but they’re also testing the water and taking water samples as they move stuff.”

The accident in November 2010 sent two semi-trucks over the Spuzzum Creek Bridge, spilling diesel into the Fraser River tributary and killing one of the drivers. A truck was left wedged on the cliff above the creek underneath the CP Rail bridge and large pieces of wreckage littered the creek banks.

Chilliwack-Hope MLA Gwen O’Mahony and NDP leader Adrian Dix lobbied government officials earlier this year to resolve the issue on behalf of Spuzzum First Nation. A day after media aired the story in April, Hobart started receiving calls from ICBC. The Crown corporation sent a team, including Hope’s Tri-West Contracting, up to Spuzzum last week to remove the last of debris.

“To witness the entire process from start to finish is rewarding,” said O’Mahony.

“It was one of those unfortunate red tape issues. At the end of the day all that really matters is that we get it cleaned up. Until we can put our blankets out and dive into that water and have a swim, it’s not completed.”

Despite the wreckage removal, Hobart said there’s still uncertainty whether residents will be able to utilize their swimming hole this summer. Weekly trips to the creek as part of the children’s program are currently on hold.

“They are still cautioning us this year that there may be some sharp pieces of fibreglass in the rocks that they won’t be able to locate (until the water levels drop),” said Hobart, noting that divers are expected to return in September.

“One of our concerns is that it was a recreational area and with all that big equipment down there, it’s losing its appeal. The trails have all been damaged … and you can see big rocks are tumbling into the creek from where they’re working.”