Highway 6 reopened, evacuation order easing in the wake of the Lemon Creek jet-fuel spill

Highway 6 has been re-opened and an evacuation order in the Slocan lifted after Friday’s 35,000-litre jet fuel spill at Lemon Creek, the Regional District of Central Kootenay said in a statement Saturday afternoon.

“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,” the statement said.
”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.”

Highway 6 had been closed between Highway 31 and Highway 3.

A state of emergency was declared after a tanker truck carrying 35,000 litres of jet fuel in the Slocan Valley overturned on Highway 6, spilling its load into Lemon Creek.

Officials in the Central Kootenay region issued an evacuation order around 9 pm Friday affecting about 1,500 people.

Authorities had initially said about 800 people living within 300 metres of area waterways were affected by the order, but that zone was later widened to cover about 2,500 people living within 3 kilometres of area waterways due to health concerns related to fumes from the jet fuel.

That evacuation area was reduced Saturday morning to include only those within 800 metres of area waterways. A precautionary do not use order was issued to all users of water supplies within 10 km downstream of the accident site.

The fuel involved (Jet Fuel A-1) is a volatile organic compound that in high concentrations (liquid or gas) can cause significant damage to skin, lung tissue, gastrointestinal tissue, and brain tissue. Volatile organic compounds such as these can also exacerbate any chronic diseases such as emphysema, heart disease, and neuromuscular disorders.

The RDCK said in its statement that 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.