March 16, 2016 - 2:37 PM
VERNON - A plywood plant in Canoe has confirmed it was the source of a possible spill of contaminated water into Shuswap Lake.
In a written statement, Canoe Forest Products operations manager Marcello Angelozzi says evidence of a water leak in the glue room pit — where glue used to make plywood sheets is collected — became apparent March 7. Cam McAlpine, who is directing media inquiries, told iNFOnews.ca the company is not providing formal interviews today, March 16.
“While the leak was being investigated, the increased volume of water was pumped out of the glue pit to collection vats outside,” says the company’s statement. “It appears some of the water may have escaped and possibly entered the Shuswap Lake shoreline.”
The Interior Health Authority was alerted to the spill Tuesday, March 15, and issued an advisory telling people not to drink from water intakes in the affected portion of the lake, and to avoid recreational use in the immediate area. As a precaution, the City of Salmon Arm shut off its intake into the lake, and switched customers to an alternate water source.
“We take responsibility for this accident, and we will work with the proper agencies to ensure impacts are minimized,” Angelozzi says.
He says the initial problem was traced back to a plumbing leak in the mill and has since been repaired.
“There is no longer any water being discharged from the plant. We are now working with provincial and federal agencies to determine what, if any, impacts there are as a result of this incident,” Angelozzi says.
Officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Conservation Officer Service were on site yesterday, Angelozzi says, adding Canoe Forest Products is working with them and Interior Health to assess the risk and determine next steps.
Interior Health has updated its initial advisory, and is now asking people to avoid recreational use from 100 metres off the log booms in the affected area, reduced from 300 metres previously. The City of Salmon Arm is now resuming use of the Shuswap Lake water intake.
“Given the location of this intake to the spill site, there is virtually no risk to health and safety of residents from this spill,” states Interior Health.
Residents with private water sources in the affected part of the lake are still advised not to use the water.
“Although the risk to human health is considered very low, any residents who may have concerns about their personal health related to this spill are advised to contact a health-care practitioner,” says Interior Health.
Ministry of Environment spokesperson David Karn said Environment Canada has taken the lead on the investigation. Environment Canada was contacted by iNFOnews.ca for information, but did not provide an update by the time this story was published.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016