A truck belonging to a subsidiary of Red Deer-based Parkland Fuel Corp. was involved in a fuel spill that’s killed thousands of fish in a British Columbia provincial park.
The Goldstream News Gazette, a sister paper of the Advocate, reports that juvenile chum and coho are showing up dead in the Goldstream River on Vancouver Island after a Columbia Fuels tanker truck crashed and spilled gasoline into the river on Saturday night.
“There are literally hundreds and hundreds of dead fish in the lower end of the river,” Tswaout First Nations fisheries manager Dan Claxton told the Gazette.
“It’s just devastating to see that many fish gone. If you look under the banks and logs, there are lots of dead fish.”
Eight thousand coho smolts had been released into the Goldstream River Saturday morning. Claxton said he believes these would have been moving through the section of river when it was flooded with gasoline.
The spill occurred after the Columbia Fuels tanker crashed into a rock wall and overturned near Goldstream Provincial Park, northwest of Victoria. A Nanaimo man, who suffered minor injuries in the crash, has been arrested on suspicion of impaired driving.
“Alcohol is definitely a factor,” said Cpl. Scott Braes of the West Shore RCMP.
“But there’s still a lot of work to be done before we have a charge.”
On Tuesday, Parkland confirmed that it activated its emergency response plan in response to the incident. It brought in environmental assessment and remediation experts.
“While we consider this a serious incident, we are very thankful that no one was seriously injured,” said Bob Espey, Parkland’s president and CEO.
Parkland estimated that approximately 40,000 litres of gasoline and 700 litres of diesel spilled onto the highway, with a portion of this entering Goldstream Creek.
The diesel is believed to have been contained at the spill site, it said, adding that the gasoline should evaporate or break down more quickly than heavier hydrocarbons, reducing the long-term consequences of the spill.
Parkland said steps taken have included applying absorbent material around the site, removing the remaining fuel from the truck and installing absorbent booms across the river downstream. Fuel-saturated soil was being removed, it added, and water samples from the area do not show visible traces of hydrocarbons, although chemical analysis is still pending.
Columbia Fuels, which operates on Vancouver Island, specializes in remote delivery on-site of home heating oil, diesel and gas products, and lubricants.