ICBC says many vehicles exposed to sulphuric acid around Trail, B.C. will need to be replaced
David Flick is about to get a new car. But it’s not a shopping trip he planned for.
Two of Flick’s vehicles have been picked up by the Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC) after they were driven through separate sulphuric acid spills on Highway 3B (Highway 22) near Trail, B.C.
To date, ICBC has received 343 claims related to people driving through the spill.
Flick says he drove through the acid spill on April 10 and his wife and daughter drove through a separate spill on May 23. ICBC is expected to write off many of the vehicles because the acid can seriously damage brakes, tires and the vehicle’s under-carriage.
“If you were in that area and drove through it, they are just scrapping them. I went by to pick up some personal stuff, CDs and such and there are BMWs, Jeeps. Their lot is full,” said Flick. “It is going to eat away at the brakes, plastic parts.”
The family has a third car that went through a spill that has not yet been picked up by ICBC. Flick says he couldn’t tell what was on the road when he drove through the spill, thinking it was water and not acid.
ICBC says it is too early to provide an estimated loss because claims are still being processed. The public insurer will be seeking to recover the cost of these claims from the parties responsible for the spill.
“ICBC is currently reviewing all claims presented by its customers to assess the extent of the damage caused by the spill,” wrote ICBC in a provided response.
“Many, and possibly all vehicles that were exposed to the spill will have to be totally replaced. However, ICBC will review each claim individually and make claims decisions based on the extent of the damage caused to each vehicle by the spill.”
International Raw Materials owns the sulphuric acid and is responsible for its transport. At the time of the spill, Westcan Bulk Transport was contracted to carry the liquid and it will be their responsibility to cover the cost of the damages.
During the May spill, 80 litres of acid seeped from a failed seal on the truck.
“The first responders were on the scene, but prior to the police getting there, there apparently were some cars that drove through. If I was a citizen of Trail, I would be concerned as well,” International Raw Materials President Tip O’Neill said.
O’Neill, who is based in Philadelphia, says he has been to Trail four times in the last month to ensure his company continues to have “the social licence to operate.”
O’Neill said his priority going forward is to operate safely and ensure the environment and public are protected.
Detailed inspections have gone on to “identify all potential areas of concern.”
Flick says he is concerned for car owners who do not live in Trail and may not have heard about the spill or what ICBC is doing.
“It’s insane, what about people who drove through and were heading for Calgary, or Manitoba or whatever? They will never hear about it,” Flick said.
“My problem is what about all those people who don’t know. Unless you are an avid Trail Times reader you are not going to know about it.”
ICBC says the dates and locations of the spill have been widely reported by the media and any questions about the spill should be directed towards the “parties responsible.”
“If any drivers believe that their vehicles may have been exposed to the spill, they should submit their claim to their insurer,” ICBC said in a written response.
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