Clean up underway after truck carrying biosolids from West Kelowna spills material

No sewage sludge in the Nicola Valley.
The fight to stop biosolids being trucked into the Nicola Valley from parts of the Okanagan and Fraser Valley started back in March, with protesters blocking sewage trucks on Highway 8 in Merritt. Friends of the Nicola Valley

NEAR 70 MILE HOUSE — Emergency spill response crews worked through the night and are close to cleaning up an accidental spill of materials from the Westside Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant, according to the Regional District of the Central Okanagan (RDCO).

A semi-truck operated by an RDCO contractor was hauling Class B biosolids from the RDCO plant when it hit an icy patch and overturned.

It happened on February 4 on the Riley Dam portion of Big Bar Road near Jesmond, about 10 kilometres from the truck’s destination at OK Ranch.

“When alerted to the accident, the regional district’s biosolids management subcontractor immediately enacted its Emergency Spill Protocol, notifying the Ministry of Environment of the spill, securing the site,” the RDCO said in a statement.

“Working in coordination with Ministry staff, Spill Response crews are taking all the necessary steps to remove the spilled materials and soil from the site.”

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The RDCO says emergency crews freed the truck driver who was pinned in the cab. He was taken to hospital in 100 Mile House with minor injuries and has since been released.

The trailer contained about 20 cubic meters of biosolid material.

Emergency Services and Spill Response crews removed the remaining biosolids from the trailer and removed the truck from the accident site.

Since Friday morning, the response team has been cleaning up the approximately five cubic metres of biosolids that spilled from the trailer.

The truck’s fuel tanks were not damaged in the accident and spill response safely removed all fuel from the truck.

“An unknown quantity of engine oil, hydraulic oil, and coolant leaked from the overturned truck. Spill Response crews are working to isolate the site, however partially frozen waterways have proven to be a challenge when setting booms and retention systems,” the RDCO said in a statement.

The RDCO says over the next week, the Regional District will continue coordinating with health and environment regulatory agencies to monitor the cleanup and water quality in Big Bar Creek.

“Because a very small percentage of pathogens may still be present in treated biosolids, the public is advised to keep themselves and pets away from the area until the Ministry of Environment and Interior Health Authority are able to rule out any potential health risks.”

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WATCH: Protest continues in Merritt against biosolids being dumped