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Few fears Similkameen fuel spill will be a health issue south of the border

Washington State authorities believe most of the fuel spilled into the Similkameen River following a tanker accident south of Princeton will have dissipated between Princeton and Keremeos.
Image Credit: Ministry of Environment
April 06, 2016 - 11:30 AM

PENTICTON - The onset of spring freshet may be preventing effects of a diesel spill into the Similkameen River from having a greater impact downstream.

Environmental response teams were on the Similkameen River yesterday, April 5, looking for signs of diesel fuel following a trailer spill of approximately 20,000 litres of diesel fuel into the river the day before.

Ministry of Environment Media Relations spokesperson David Karn says crews were in rafts checking monitors in the river to see if any fuel remained in any pockets.

Karn says the Similkameen River is flowing 'pretty quickly' this week, and adds he can’t imagine much of the fuel remaining in too many areas.

“That’s what part of the assessments going on (Tuesday) were about,” he says.

He says the ministry is keeping the public updated through the Ministry of Environment’s spill incidents web page.

Further downstream, south of the United States border, officials seem less worried about the spill’s effect on their water supplies.

Oroville City Superintendent Rod Noel jokes they would use the spilled diesel for 'mosquito control'.

He received a report from the Washington State Department of Ecology predicting the spill would be largely dissipated by the time it reaches Bromley Rock Provincial Park, a point on the Similkamaeen River approximately 20 kilometres east of Princeton.

“Diesel is pretty volatile, it’ll evaporate. I don’t know, but the river’s running around, probably 6 to 8,000 cubic feet per second, so every second there’s twice as much water going down that river than was in that tank,” he says, also noting the rough flow of the river this time of year.

Noel says he’s talked to the Department of Health in Washington, and based on the fact most water users in the Oroville area draw from wells, there appears to be little fear of a health threat south of the border due to the spill.

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