The cab of a Columbia Fuels b-train fuel truck is crumpled against a rock wall next to the Malahat Drive

The cab of a Columbia Fuels b-train fuel truck is crumpled against a rock wall next to the Malahat Drive

Update: Fish dying after tanker truck spills gasoline into Goldstream River

Thousands of litres of gasoline spilled into Goldstream River Saturday night after a tanker truck crashed into a rock wall and overturned on the Malahat Drive.



Thousands of juvenile chum and coho are showing up dead in the Goldstream River in the wake of tanker truck that crashed and spilled gasoline into the river Saturday night.

Tswaout First Nations fisheries manager Dan Claxton walked the northern section of the river near the estuary Sunday and said its likely thousands of emerging chum fry and coho smolts have perished.

“There are literally hundreds and hundreds of dead fish in the lower end of the river,” Claxton said Monday morning. “It’s just devastating to see that many fish gone. If you look under the banks and logs, there are lots of dead fish.”

Tswaout members and Goldstream hatchery volunteers had released 8,000 coho smolts in Goldstream River Saturday morning, which Claxton suspects would have been moving through the section of river when it was flooded with an estimated 30,000 litres of gasoline.

“A lot (of fish) are showing up dead. Everything is coming out of the gravel,” said hatcher manger Peter McCully.

Gasoline gushed into Goldstream River Saturday night after a Columbia Fuels b-train tanker crashed into a rock wall and overturned on the Malahat Drive near Goldstream Provincial Park.

West Shore RCMP arrested the driver, a 33-year-old Nanaimo man, Saturday night at Victoria General Hospital on suspicion of impaired driving. He suffered minor injuries in the single-vehicle crash was released from custody at the detachment Sunday.

“Alcohol is definitely a factor,” said Cpl. Scott Braes with West Shore RCMP. “But there’s still a lot of work to be done before we have a charge.”

Ministry of Environment officials estimate 30,000 litres of gasoline spilled into Goldstream River, a prolific and pristine salmon spawning stream that empties into Finlayson Arm. The fuel truck was also hauling diesel, which officials say did not escape the tanks.

The southbound truck crashed and rolled around 6 p.m. Saturday, a few hundred metres south of the Goldstream park entrance and about 10 metres from Goldstream River. Fuel spilled from a wide gash in the tank into a ditch on the west side of the Malahat Drive, and flowed through a culvert directly into the river.

The Malahat Drive remained closed overnight and well into Sunday as the remaining fuel in the tanks was siphoned into another tanker, while West Shore firefighters kept the vehicle doused in foam to suppress volatile gasoline fumes.

The heavy smell of gasoline saturated the normally cool air of Goldstream park Sunday morning as crews slowly and methodically removed pieces of the truck’s drive train in preparation for hoisting the sections upright.

At the same time, environmental officials from the federal and provincial governments and private environmental contractors scoured the river and estuary seeking signs of habitat damage or signs of sick or injured wildlife. A Ministry of Transportation aircraft made overpasses of Finlayson Arm Sunday morning to watch for a fuel slick.

B.C. Ministry of Environment emergency response officer Alex Grant said the majority of the gasoline should evaporate within 18 hours, based on the volume estimate.

“That’s what we are expecting and we are going to confirm that by going out on the water,” Grant said. “Good news is gasoline floats … there is a very good flushing action with the Goldstream River. The vast majority (of fuel) will stay on the water and carry out to Finlayson Arm where it will evaporate.

“What continues from here is an assessment of where the fuel went. We are taking this seriously. We don’t want to see fuel getting out into the environment.”

Allan Willms, director of operations with Columbia Fuels, said the driver was hired last September and went through a standard development regime, working his way up from short haul trucks to a truck and trailer to b-train runs.

Willms said Columbia Fuels has hired several environmental response firms to monitor if the fuel is killing fish or otherwise impacting wildlife and park habitat. As of Sunday morning, “they have been up and down the stream and have found no adverse effects from what we have been told,” Willms said.

A crane crew spent much of Sunday working to right the tanks and truck cab, which was crumpled and embedded in the canyon rock wall. Fire crews kept the crash scene soaked in foam to provide a measure of safety during the delicate operation to hoist the tanks without igniting residual gasoline vapors.

To make the operation more difficult and dangerous, pounding rain, followed by pounding hail the size of marbles, fell over Langford around noon.

Langford emergency social services volunteers set up a comfort centre at the Langford Legion last night for drivers trapped south of the Malahat. One person made use of the centre.

The Vancouver Island criminal crash investigation team, RCMP South Island traffic services and the integrated collision and re-constructionist section are leading the criminal investigation into the crash.

B.C. Ambulance, fire crews from Langford, Colwood, Highlands and Sooke, West Shore RCMP, Mainroad South Island Contracting and a number of government environmental and hazardous materials response agencies were on scene overnight.

 

 

Just Posted

Rachel Rivera (left) and Claire Ouchi are a dynamic art duo known as the WKNDRS. The two painted the new road mural at Uptown. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Artistic mural at Uptown brings creativity, fun to summer shoppers in Saanich

Road installation the largest of its kind in Greater Victoria

Kathy and Doug LaFortune stand next to the new welcome pole now gracing the front entrance of KELSET Elementary School in North Saanich. LaFortune completed the piece after suffering a stroke with the help of his wife and son Bear. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
KELSET school in North Saanich unveils welcome pole on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Carver Doug LaFortune completed pole with the help of his son, wife after suffering a stroke

Victoria police continue to look for missing man Tyrone Goertzen and are once again asking for the public’s assistance in locating him. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police put out another call for help finding missing man

Tyrone Goertzen, 33, was first reported missing June 4

Colwood council is looking at potential summer weekend closures to traffic of a section of Ocean Boulevard at Esquimalt Lagoon, to allow for more of a park-like setting during summer events such as the popular Eats & Beats event, shown here in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Mayor lobbying for summer weekend closures of beachfront Colwood roadway

Rob Martin to bring motion forward to June 28 council meeting

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

Bernadette Jordan addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. Jordan says the government will provide $2 million to allow First Nations to continue to strengthen the marine safety system across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
First Nations receive federal funds to purchase marine rescue boats

Quatsino, Heiltsuk, and Kitasoo First Nation’s among eight across Canada to receive funding

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctors urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Most Read