More than 250 people packed into the Winlaw Community Hall Tuesday night and 100 more spilled into the parking lot outside for an emotional information meeting about the jet fuel spill in Lemon Creek.
Organized by the Regional District of Central Kootenay, the meeting was intended to provide information and answer questions about the 33,000 litres of jet fuel that was dumped into Lemon Creek on Friday afternoon after an Executive Flight Centre tanker truck toppled into the water source causing an eventual evacuation of 800 residences.
“I’m very concerned about the health of my family and the health of my community,” said an emotional Jane Flotron who owns a small farm one kilometre from where the spill took place.
Chaired by RDCK regional fire chief Terry Swan, the panel included representatives from Interior Health, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment, RDCK area directors, Ministry of Agriculture, Executive Flight Centre and consultants working on the clean-up effort.
Questions and concerns ranged from the availability of drinking water to the process used in the Friday/Saturday evacuation to whether the company responsible for the spill will face formal charges. The tone was at times anger and frustration, but also appreciation for the efforts being undertaken so far by officials.
As he has done previously, senior VP of Executive Flight Centre Wayne Smook apologized when given his turn on the microphone.
“We know water and the watershed is very important to this valley,” he said. “I truly apologize, but it was an accident.”
Interior Health’s Medical Health Officer Dr. Trevor Corbeil told the crowd that the Do Not Use order will stay in place for at least the next few days.
“I can tell you now, you will not be using the water for the next five days,” Corbeil said, adding that it could be even longer before Lemon Creek, the Slocan River and the Kootenay River are cleared for any kind of ingestion or recreation.
Though the crowd slowly started to trickle out after 9 p.m., the questions continued past 10 p.m.
The Star will have more on the public meeting on Wednesday