Emergency crews deployed anti-spill materials around the area to prevent the diesel from entering the storm drain system (Photo: Sam Lattanzio)

Quick action prevents diesel spill in Castlegar

Hundreds of litres of fuel contained before entering environment

Quick action by a fuel-truck driver and emergency crews helped avoid a diesel fuel spill into the environment on Wednesday in Castlegar.

Castlegar Fire Chief Sam Lattanzio says emergency officials got a call just after 2 p.m. from a driver, saying fuel was leaking from his diesel tanker. The tanker was parked on the side of the road near the McDonald’s on Columbia Avenue.

“It is estimated that approximately 300 to 400 liters of diesel fuel spilled onto the eastern, north-bound lane of Columbia into the gutter heading for the storm drain system,” says Lattanzio.

Fortunately, says Lattanzio, the driver called immediately after noticing the leak, and emergency crews got there within two minutes, stopping the leaking fuel from entering the city’s storm drain system.

Plug and Dike [a leak-sealing material] was used to stop the fuel spill from the ruptured tank. Dikes, absorbent and catch-basin covers were deployed quickly to protect fuel from entering three storm drains along Columbia, says Lattanzio.

“One of the things that was working with us is that the culverts were covered by solid ice and snow, so it prevented fuel entering from one of them, and the other ones that were farther down, we were able to head the fuel off at the pass, as it were,” he said. “Very little, if any, entered the storm system.”

Lattanzio says Castlegar Public works was also quick to respond with two loads of sand and loader to absorb the pooled fuel. RCMP, CVSE and the Ministry of the Environment were on scene to assess the situation.

It’s not known what caused the tanker to leak, though it may have been some rock or other object kicked up off the road that punctured the tank.

Lattanzio says it’s the first time the city’s new Hazmat Supprot Unit Trailer was deployed to an incident.

He credits quick response from everyone from public works crews to the police for handling the emergency quickly and avoiding a nasty environmental incident.

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