UPDATE: Decision to close Winlaw Resiliency Centre reversed; lawsuit filed
The initial order to remove potable water and shower facilities from the Winlaw Resiliency Centre has been reversed as of Sunday afternoon.
Representatives from Executive Flight Centre spent Sunday afternoon visiting with several affected residents in the Slocan Valley and were made aware of the continued needs of some residents with special circumstances.
Due to the concerns, Executive Flight Centre officials said shower and potable water services will remain in place until Wednesday (August 14) at which time service levels will be re-evaluated.
For more information go to http://www.lemoncreekresponse.ca/
Valley resident who now considers Slocan River ‘dead zone’ files lawsuit
Slocan Valley resident Robert Kirk, who now describes the Slocan River as a “dead zone” has launched legal action after a truck owned by Executive Flight Centre dumped 35,000 litres of jet fuel into Lemon Creek July 27.
“The Slocan River is a dead zone,” Kirk said in a release sent out by lawyer David M. Aaron from Nelson.
“The wildlife are gone. Ducks, herons and deer have been pulled out dead from the river. The shorelines and wetlands that were once nesting grounds are now scattered with fish carcasses.”
Kirk owns 20-plus hectares near the Perry Siding Bridge in Slocan Valley, approximately six kilometres south of Lemon Creek.
When reached by phone Sunday, Kirk referred all questions through lawyer David Aaron.
However, Kirk did say as of Saturday, more than 72 people had joined the
Slocan class action Facebook group.
The tanker truck belonging to Executive Flight Centre crashed into Lemon Creek after the driver had taken the wrong road en route to delivering fuel to helicopters fighting the Perry Ridge Fire 4.5 kilometres west of Winlaw.
The fuel quickly flowed from Lemon Creek into the Slocan River before ending up in Kootenay River.
About 3000 people were evacuated from their homes due to the danger of the fuel spill.
Highway 6 through the Slocan Valley was closed.
Residents were allowed to return to their homes almost 24 hours after the spill but IH Medical Health Officer Dr. Trevor Corneil issued the “Do Not Use” water restriction order.
Those restrictions were lifted for the Kootenay River before IH officials opened the entire river system Friday.
“All remaining Do Not Use water restrictions on the Slocan River north of the Winlaw Bridge and Lemon Creek have been removed,” the IH release said.
“This means that water drawn from this area may be consumed, and that it is now safe for recreational purposes from a health perspective.”
However, the class action lawsuit voices concerns over the longterm impact the tanker spill will have on the Slocan Valley region.
“The plaintiff is uncomfortable with the fact that clean up is in the hands of the parties that were allegedly irresponsible enough to let this happen,” Aaron explains.
“We are asking the Court to compel the Defendants to meaningfully consult with an independent environment scientist who may give input into monitoring and remediation strategies.”
The class action lawsuit was filed Friday against the Province of British Columbia and Executive Flight Centre — the company that operated the tanker that caused the spill.
The suit also alleges the province neglected to limit access by large vehicles to the Lemon Creek Forest Service Road, and alleges negligence and nuisance on the part of Executive Flight Centre.
These claims have not been proven in court.
The defendants have until the end of August to file their response.
Kirk and other members of the suit on Lemon Creek and Slocan and Kootenay Rivers will ask a judge to certify their suit as a class action.