This editorial is published in the Trail Daily Times, Castlegar News, and Nelson Star:
The two spills of sulphuric acid in April and May, on the main road through Trail have created considerable angst in our region. It is difficult to pinpoint what is more unsettling: the lack of information when the spills happened, the costs involved, our feelings of uncertainty, or the fact that the spills happened at all – not just once, but twice within a span of six weeks.
Like so many of our constituents, I first learned about these spills through word of mouth weeks after the fact. I was further impacted when my own vehicle ended up getting written off.
In the meantime, my staff and I have been gathering all the information we can. This issue involves three private companies, four government agencies, over three thousand insurance claims (at last count) and now, also a number of lawyers that put limits on what information they allow their clients to share. Needless to say, it has been quite a challenge to obtain and verify all of the information we need to be fully informed.
Many constituents have expressed concern that there wasn’t more information shared shortly after the spills happened. This permitted misinformation and mistrust to build, making it all that much harder to find the facts.
Since learning about the spills, my staff and I have contacted all of the companies and ministries involved to determine what their role and response has been. We have also tried to facilitate communication between the public and these organizations. We have spoken to both local managers and the Ministers’ offices, learning what we can and appraising them of our constituents’ concerns.
I have met with ICBC, who has set up a team of over 30 staff including specialized experts to deal with this matter. We have explained to them the need for better communication and have reported to them the many concerns that our constituents have had. My staff continue to have ongoing communication with our ICBC liaisons, who have been able to answer more questions as they arise.
Although there has finally been some public communication released by ICBC and Teck/IRM, my office is trying hard to fill any gaps. New information is still coming to us almost daily, and we are doing our best to respond to inquiries made by the public.
This is an unprecedented situation, and there is a lot of work to be done to continue to inform the public. Sadly, this issue will require lengthy investigations and court proceedings before we get all the answers we need, and we all continue to be affected by the emotional, financial and logistical impacts of these very unfortunate incidents.
In the meantime, we have compiled a list of resources [click here] that provide as much information as we know to date and are updating my website with more information as it becomes available. As your MLA, I am committed to finding answers and doing whatever is in my power to support my constituents on this matter.
Hon. Katrine Conroy, MLA Kootenay West