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All those sandbags are considered contaminated materials

Sandbags currently surround Okanagan Lake, as well as border overflowing creeks.
June 13, 2017 - 6:30 PM

KELOWNA - Local authorities admit they have no plans for what to do with more than a million sandbags once flooding subsides in the Central Okanagan but the Ministry of Transportation is already warning it’s not as simple as you think.

They are considered contaminated materials.

A release from the ministry today first advises residents to not begin removing the sandbags until local governments advise it’s safe to do so and also to follow instructions from local government on how and where to remove them to.

That may be a little premature.

The City of Kelowna re-directed calls to the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre but information officer Summer Effray said they haven’t gotten that far yet.

“Right now a plan is still in the works,” she said. “A bunch of stuff is being considered but there hasn’t been final thoughts on a plan.”

According to Effray, meetings involving various municipalities will be taking place this week in to plan for recovery.

The transportation ministry says whatever that plan is, be careful because many of those sandbags “may be exposed to contaminants” from floodwaters.

“Due to the potential of contamination, residents are advised to not use the sand in playgrounds, sandboxes or other areas where there might be direct human contact,” according to a release. “Sandbag contents should not be disposed of in lakes, rivers, wetlands, floodplains, parks or other environmentally sensitive or protected areas.”

It advises those handling sandbags to wear gloves and boots and take special care to clean exposes areas of skin and pay special attention to any open wounds that may have come into contact with floodwater or potential contaminants.

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