Tawnya Jensen said she and fellow truckers who travel Highway 1 through the Eagle Pass are not impressed that a semi that went into the Eagle River about a week ago has not yet been removed.
“We just couldn’t believe they didn’t pull it out last Saturday,” said Jensen, of Salmon Arm, about six days after the semi went into the river.
According to Revelstoke RCMP, at 4:45 a.m. on May 5, a westbound semi-trailer truck went off the road near the Enchanted Forest on Highway 1. When police arrived on the scene, the truck’s occupants could not be located.
Later, authorities learned the driver and one passenger had been picked up and driven to Sicamous by a passing motorist. Due to the location of the tractor-trailer, police said the Ministry of Environment was also responding to the incident.
A ministry spokesperson confirmed it was involved, and said the trailer was carrying mail.
The ministry has an environmental contractor providing environmental monitoring and remediation.
Responding to concerns around leaking fuel, the ministry spokesperson said the approximately 300 litres of diesel in the tanks “appears to be contained within the tanks, with minimal leakage into the environment,” and that containment booms are in place.
As for why the tractor-trailer is still in the river, the ministry offered the following:
“Due to recent heavy rain in the area, the water around the transport truck has risen. This raised risks to personnel involved in the recovery operation. For this reason the recovery is waiting for a safe window of opportunity that will pose less danger to personnel involved in the recovery operation, and minimize the risk for fuel to be released during the recovery operation.”
This doesn’t entirely hold water with Jensen, who said that on Thursday, the tractor unit still could have been accessed from the riverbank and would have been easier to remove at that time. Furthermore, Jensen said it’s not just fuel that can contaminate the water/wetlands there.
“It’s just impossible to contain all the grease and pollutants that are on the truck,” said Jensen. “There are so many things.”
In addition to her environmental concerns, Jensen said there are safety concerns as well, with drivers are stopping at the scene, some to see if the semi driver is OK.
Jensen said she’s been told by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure that the tractor-trailer unit would be removed on Thursday, May 12. Jensen said the trucking company involved and the province should have done it much sooner. She also noted it wasn’t the first time a commercial hauler has gone off the highway in that location.
“Do it as soon as possible; it just needs to be handled quickly,” said Jensen. “Give the company a day to figure it out. This is what they do with those trucks that are in the ditch all the time. The same companies all the time.”
Revelstoke RCMP said it continues to investigate the May 5 incident and potential traffic violations are being considered.
With files from Josh Piercey, Revelstoke Review.
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