UPDATED: Leaking piece of machinery blamed for oil spill near Balfour Ferry Terminal

Two barrels or just over 416 litres of emulsified oil and water solution were recovered from the leaking piece of machinery on the Balfour Ferry.
Two barrels or just over 416 litres of emulsified oil and water solution were recovered from the leaking piece of machinery on the Balfour Ferry.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay said clean-up is almost complete after a gear oil spill at the Balfour Ferry Terminal Saturday (April 15th).

The RDCK said in media release Wednesday that the piece of machinery that caused the oil spill into the west arm of Kootenay Lake has been removed from the Kootenay Lake Balfour Ferry operated by Western Pacific Marine.

The Balfour Ferry was reported to be leaking gear oil on Saturday, April 15 while stationed near the Balfour Ferry Terminal, located approximately 33 kilometers north of Nelson on Highway 3A.

"The spill has been contained and the faulty piece of equipment was removed from the ferry (Tuesday) morning," the media release said.

"Two barrels or just over 416 L of emulsified oil and water solution were recovered from the leaking piece of machinery."

Western Pacific Marine is waiting until the the oil settles out and separates from the water to determine the exact amount of spilled gear oil.

However, the amount spill has been determined to be less than originally thought.

The RDCK monitoring and sampling was done along the shore as far as Heuston Rd to ensure there is no residual product and to identify areas that require further remediation.  
 
"Oil seen on the water as a shiny sheen and a rainbow sheen are at very low quantities that subject matter experts have indicated will dissipate or have dissipated already," the release said.

"For the volume of material, dissipation is considered the best means of mitigation along with the booms placed around the spill."

The Incident Report had the RDCK saying there were no parks in the immediate area of the incident and recreational concerns regarding the beach are reduced this time of year.
 
The RDCK said water samples were taken Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday and results should be back by Friday.

The complete incident report can be viewed here.

Interior Health cautions public after fuel spill next to the Balfour Ferry terminal

Interior Health is urging recreational users to avoid the area near the Balfour Ferry Terminal following a recent fuel spill into the west arm of Kootenay Lake.

Interior Health made the announcement in a media release Saturday afternoon.

"Interior Health (IH) is cautioning people to avoid recreational use of Kootenay Lake along a 400 metre stretch of shoreline next to the Balfour Ferry terminal," the release said.

"The Ministry of Environment (MoE) reports that about 400 litres of gear oil has leaked into the lake, which has created a sheen on the surface of the water."

The Balfour Ferry Terminial is located approximately 33 kilometers north of Nelson on Highway 3A.

IH said it has consulted with the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) and MoE, and there do not appear to be drinking water intakes in this area.

However, IH recognizes that people may choose to visit the area over the long weekend which is the reason for the release.

Interior Health said the impacted area is about a 400 metre stretch of shoreline along the west arm of Kootenay Lake.

"The oil can be seen to the immediate east and west of the Balfour Ferry terminal," the release said.

"People should avoid swimming in the area, and should prevent their pets from swimming there as well. There is no risk to people who choose to visit the beach as long as they don’t enter the water.

Interior Health will remain in contact with the Ministry of Environment and the Regional District of Central Kootenay as containment and cleanup proceeds.

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