The Ministry of Environment is saying there is no reason to panic over four industrial barrels that were discovered at a popular swimming hole a few kilometres west of Tete Jaune.

Two of the barrels had labels showing they contained acid. The barrels were discovered by locals who went to the area to swim.

A Ministry spokesperson says they received a report of the barrels on June 17th and on June 20th two impact biologists went to the area where the barrels were reported to have been, but the barrels were gone. The Ministry staff investigated the area and “found no evidence of impact to the environment.”

The spokesperson said the biologists search for things such as fish kills, damage to vegetation, discolouration or turbidity in the water, or visible signs of chemical spills.

One barrel’s label warned the “Acid Blend SP 600 HD” is corrosive and an eye irritant. According to the company that manufactures the acid, it is used for cleaning out the lines that transport milk on dairy farms. It is normally used in a concentration of 30ml per 8 litres, according to Jean Francois Lambert, Branch Manager for DeLaval Canada that manufactures the product. He notes the product is regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Another barrel said it contains “Hypochlorite Solutions UN 1791” with a warning the contents are corrosive, however both acids are reportedly water-soluble and not strong enough to do serious habitat damage, the Ministry says.

Why the barrels ended up where they did is still unknown. Some have suggested they may have been used by swimmers as flotation devices.

A few people swam in the swimming hole after the acid jugs was found and were not aware of any irregularities in the water.

At least one barrel still contained a liquid, though it was not clear whether it was the original contents. Two of the barrels’ labels were peeled off. It’s not clear whether any acid was dumped in the swimming hole. The CN rail track separates the swimming hole from a marshy area that connects to the Fraser River.

By: Laura Keil