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Potentially explosive situation after fuel truck crashes; river contamination possible

Click to play video: 'Fuel truck carrying diesel and gasoline crashes near Shuswap River' Fuel truck carrying diesel and gasoline crashes near Shuswap River
Fuel truck carrying diesel and gasoline crashes near Shuswap River – May 16, 2017

The crash of a fuel truck Tuesday morning in the north Okanagan is creating environmental and explosion concerns.

The tanker truck was carrying 4,090 litres of gasoline and 12,500 litres of diesel when it went off Mabel Lake Road down an embankment and struck trees.

Some of the combustibles spilled from the truck, but the volume hasn’t been determined.

Tuesday afternoon responders onsite said none of the leaking fuel made it into the nearby Shuswap River.

Enderby Fire Department crews dug a hand trench to try to collect the fuel and keep it from reaching the Shuswap River.

A fuel truck carrying diesel and gasoline went over an embankment on Mabel Lake Road Tuesday morning. Megan Turcato / Global News

An excavator was also called in to dig a deeper trench.

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But the workers had to clear the area when it became too dangerous.

“There’s a high VOC, or a Volume of Concentration of gas diesel and air fuel mixture, about 90 per cent right now, which is a high ignition value,” said fire department chief Kevin Alstad. “So I had to pull our members out of here because of the danger.”

Alstad says an environmental assessment will be done and hydro-vac suction trucks will be used to collect as much contaminated material as possible.

The truck driver suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Spill prompts precautionary water advisory

Interior Health is asking residents along the Shuswap River to check their water for any signs of diesel contamination.

The advisory is for the area from about six kilometres east of Ashton Creek to the river mouth at Mara Lake.

Interior Health released this map of the “potential area of impact” from the fuel spill. Interior Health

It’s a precautionary move, as the agency says it’s unclear if any fuel has entered the river.

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“Any residents along the river in the impacted area should not use water if it smells or tastes like fuel or if there is fuel visible in the water,” states an Interior Health news release.

“This includes no drinking, showering/bathing or brushing teeth [with the water] if a fuel odour is detected. Diesel fuel and gasoline can pose a health risk following ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption.”

Water system operators in Enderby and Grindrod are taking measures to protect their customers because both systems draw water from the Shuswap River downstream of the crash.

Company responds

The vehicle was owned and operated by Armstrong Regional Co-op.

The company sent an environmental response team to the crash site and said it was working closely with government to “make sure that we keep any fuel from getting to the water.”

The co-op is said to will be footing the bill for the cleanup.

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“Our goal is to make sure that site doesn’t have any indications that this ever happened,” said general manager Jeff Payne.

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