SHUSWAP - The operations manager of a plywood plant where a spill of glue and fuel product was reported earlier this week says the amount of seepage was in the gallons, not several thousands of litres.
The Interior Health Authority issued an advisory earlier this week informing the public an estimated "several thousands of litres" of run-off water containing glue and fuel products was washed into Shuswap Lake.
The leakage came from the Canoe Forests Products plywood plant on the shore of Shuswap Lake, but operations manager Marcello Angelozzi says the reported size of the incident has been greatly exaggerated.
“What actually reached the lake bank was 20 to 25 gallons,” Angelozzi says. “We’re confident the water that went out there will test negative for any contaminants.”
Angelozzi says water was discovered pooling in the basement March 7, and was pumped out into a self-contained pond system that recycles water. He estimates a couple thousand litres of water was pumped out into the ponds. While that was happening, a small amount of water seeped out onto the foreshore area of the lake, Angelozzi says.
“A very small trickle made it to the bank. It was a very small amount,” Angelozzi says.
The leak was traced back to a water line break, and Angelozzi says it was mostly fresh water that escaped. Any contaminants that might have been picked up would have come from the basement floor. While the water was found pooling in the glue room, he says the glue itself is contained in vats and was not in direct contact with the water.
“We took our own tests along with (the Department of Fisheries and Oceans). We expect the water that reached the banks will test negative for any hazardous material,” he says.
The health authority’s advisory calls for boaters, swimmers and fishermen to stay away from the immediate area, and for anyone with a water intake in the affected part of the lake not to use the water. The City of Salmon Arm temporarily switched off its water intake into the lake, but has since received the go ahead from Interior Health to turn it back on.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the B.C. Conservation Service visited the plant Tuesday, March 15, responding to a report of glue and fuel being poured into the lake, Angelozzi says.
Environment Canada issued a brief statement March 16 stating the enforcement branch was advised of the incident and is following up with its partner agencies.
Neither the Ministry of Environment, nor Environment Canada, has released any details about the incident or the investigation.
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