Sinixt Nation letter to BC Minister Of Environment in Regards to the Lemon Creek Jet-Fuel Spill

To: Mary Polak, Minister of Environment,

PO BOX 9047, STN PROV GOVT
VICTORIA, BC, V8W 9E2
Telephone: 250 387-1187
Fax: 250 387-1356

 

Date: August 2nd 2013,

 

RE: Human health in Sinixt territory especially the Lemon Creek area of the Slocan Valley BC.

 

We thank the Ministry of Environment for replying to our July 31st 2013 email in regards to the recent “Lemon Creek Fuel Spill.”

 

Further to the verbal permission granted by our Chief to the Ministry via telephone, Sinixt Nation gives our blessing to the Ministry to take all necessary requirements to clean up the the said fuel spill in the most efficient and expedited manner.

 

We of course require staff working on the clean up effort to be informed of the archaeological and cultural use areas of Sinixt Nation and to be conscience of artifacts and burial remains in certain areas along the Slocan River, Lemon Creek, and Kootenay River. Assistance in these regards from the Archaeological Branch and Sinixt Nation could potentially be available in regards to these efforts.

 

As suggested we attended the August 1st 2013 Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) Fire Service community update in Winlaw BC in regards to current wildfire on Perry Ridge.

 

Chief Bob Campbell of Sinixt Nation was recognized and introduced to all in attendance by Walter Popoff, the Central Kootenay Regional District Director for the region and we received some information by Fire Service staff, including Doug Smith the current acting incident commander.

 

The MFLNRO Fire Service staff did the best that they could do to inform the local community in regards to the wildfire and the operations. Staff also did their best to inform Sinixt Nation and local residents of the MFLNRO Forest Service's use of possibly tens of thousands of gallons of jet-fuel laden water from the Slocan River to battle the said wildfire and the “substantial amounts” of retardant used to fight the wildfire on our sacred mountain slhu7kin/Perry Ridge.

Sinixt Nation Chief Bob Campbell spoke on behalf of many of the Slocan Valley community members affected by the recent events in our lands. He also spoke to the panel to bring clarity between government representatives and the local community's concerns around the water quality and the concern to the health of human beings, wildlife, water and the general environment under our unique environmental concerns. He did so at the benefit to all everyone involved.

 

The major concern at the moment is the drinking water and air quality in the Slocan Valley.

 

Benninger Creek has had large volumes of fire retardants as well as some amount of jet-fuel dumped into its headwaters and the community members whose water is affected requires information concerning human health risks from the chemicals in the retardants that are held under “trade secret” and from the chemicals in the jet-fuel and possibly any effects from the combination of the two products. Area residents are also concerned about the other creeks in the surrounding area such as Hird Creek and Watson Creek.

 

We require any information on the effects of these said trade secret ingredients to human health, and for the water of the said creeks to be tested immediately for possible contamination due to the MFLNRO fire operations.

 

If experts can come to our region and answer questions in regards to our community's health concerns and the chemicals currently affecting the environment and people in the Slocan Valley it would ease the sense of panic lingering among many Slocan Valley community members who are left with unanswered questions after 2 public meetings.

 

Prior to the MFLNRO Fire Service update meeting we spoke with a representative from Quantum Murray and ensured them of our full support of clean up operations. The said representative supplied us with information regarding the clean up efforts and affected areas and Sinixt Nation representatives supplied information to the representative on behalf of our First Nation and our findings of contaminated sites along the river.

 

Sinixt Nation is encouraging ourselves and our local community to develop community based emergency response/evacuation procedures for any potential future disasters.

 

As of July 30th there was substantial amounts of jet-fuel still pooling in the back eddies of Lemon Creek and the Slocan River and the air quality of the surrounding area especially around Kennedy Rd was still very poor and was difficult to breath as was witnessed by Sinixt members. Sinixt Nation is aware that prolonged exposure to certain chemical can have negative effects to human health. Sinixt Nation is concerned for the residents in these areas and asks that the Minister of Health take action and engage in collecting air quality samples immediately to ensure the safety of the local residents in the regions where the fuel vapours are still strong.

 

We ask that the Ministry take all available means to ensure the health of the human beings in our territory affected by these disasters. We also ask that the Ministry continue to provide Sinixt Nation and the Slocan Valley community with health information and updates on the environmental situation and utilize the safest, quickest and most efficient way to clean up and restore our local environment.

 

lim limt - Thank you,

Dennis Zarelli Jr.

________________________________

Communications and Administration Officer for the Sinixt Nation

http://www.sinixtnation.org

[email protected]

 

Sinixt Nation Chief Bob Campbell – (ll'mix'm Ki-x'u-x'us-kit) (phone: 1-250-226-6743)

Sinixt Nation Spokesperson Marilyn James (phone: 1-250-226-6726)