Clemina soil extraction
Soil removal operations at the Clemina crash site were underway the week of March 25th, according to the Ministry of Environment. Environmental consultants have been making regular trips there to assess the impact of the truck crash. / ABIGAIL POPPLE

By Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change has confirmed that a truck crash last month caused phosphoric acid and formic acid to spill into the surrounding area. However, the spill did not impact nearby waterways, the Ministry said. The March 9th truck crash left residents near Clemina Creek without power for over 40 hours, as previously reported in The Goat.

In the late afternoon of March 9th, a semi-truck crashed off of Highway 5 about 30 kilometres south of Valemount.

The incident damaged nearby BC Hydro power lines, cutting off electricity for the subdivision of approximately 20 households from that Saturday evening through the weekend, resident June MacDuff told The Goat at the time.

Provincial Environmental Emergency Response Officers visited the site on March 21st to supervise cleanup operations and recover the vehicle.

They determined that about 6,500 litres of phosphoric acid and 1,000 litres of diethanolamine – a chemical commonly used in soaps and detergents, which Health Canada says can be carcinogenic when combined with certain chemicals – had been spilled at the site.

These chemicals have been successfully removed from the area, according to the Ministry.

The truck bore the logo of Reliance Logistics, a transportation and logistics company. While a manager at Reliance confirmed that the trailer was owned by Reliance Logistics, he said that the driver operating the truck was employed by Somal Brothers Ltd., another logistics company. Somal Brothers did not return The Goat’s request for comment, and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change was unable to confirm whether Somal Brothers was the entity responsible for cleaning up damage from the crash by press time.

According to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change webpage about the chemical spill, the truck was carrying multiple containers of various chemicals, at least two of which spilled onto the ground. One container had phosphoric acid, and the other had formic acid, the webpage says.

“Environmental sampling has occurred and initial results indicate no impacts to the immediate surface or groundwater,” reads the Ministry’s webpage on the incident. “Sampling also took place on the closest water body to the incident site, the Albreda River (approx. 200m from the spill location).”

Provincial Environmental Emergency Response Officers have visited the site multiple times, according to the Ministry.

In an email to The Goat, the Ministry said that Officers were on site on March 11th, but did not find evidence to believe that waterways were impacted by the chemical spill. An environmental response contractor was on site the following day to further assess environmental impacts of the crash, the Ministry said.

The Ministry was unable to provide a copy of the environmental contractor’s assessment to The Goat by presstime.

Additionally, a cultural monitor from the Simpcw First Nation was on-site for remediation operations, the Ministry said. The Goat reached out to the Simpcw First Nation for comment but did not receive a response by presstime.

The environmental consultant will be creating a final report at the end of remediation and recovery operations, says the incident webpage, but no further updates are expected for the webpage.