Spuzzum First Nation has been waiting almost 17 months for truck wreckage to be removed from a popular local swimming hole.
An accident on Highway 1 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.
Almost a year-and-a-half later debris remains in and around the creek. There’s also a semi-truck wedged on the cliff above the creek underneath the CP Rail bridge.
Despite efforts from Spuzzum First Nation to get the wreckage cleaned up so they can once again utilize their swimming hole, they still have no answers.
NDP leader Adrian Dix and bylection candidate Gwen O’Mahony toured the site on Monday to learn more about the situation first-hand.
“The debris is terrible. Right in the swimming hole where a lot of the community members jump into the water, there’s still some rebar and sharp pieces jutting out. It’s very dangerous,” said O’Mahony, adding that absorbent pads used to soak up the diesel spill and large pieces of the wreckage also litter the creek banks.
“You can just imagine absorbing the diesel and leaving it there for a year, you’d have leaching. It’s just counter-productive.”
Dix said there appears to be some bureaucratic dispute over whose responsibility it is to clean up the environmental hazard. In the meantime, members of Spuzzum First Nation are concerned about the chemicals in the water and the impact it will have on spawning fish. The creek is known to carry steelhead, Dolly Varden trout and chum runs.
Liberal candidate Laurie Throness said the wreckage is in a very difficult location and there’s been problems getting insurance for contractors to remove it. However, he agreed that cleanup is long overdue.
“I think out of respect for the kids and the environment as well as respect for the tragedy that happened, we need to get that removed as soon as possible,” Throness added.
BC Conservative candidate John Martin blames the delay on the Liberals “shameful disregard for people in rural and semi-rural parts of the province.” He said it shouldn’t be too difficult to determine which agency is ultimately responsible for tending to this matter.
They all acknowledged that had this occurred elsewhere in the Lower Mainland, it would have been cleaned up long ago.