News

No major toxicity concerns from iron oxide spill

Matsqui Slough turned a rusty red colour following an iron oxide spill. - Tyler Olsen
Matsqui Slough turned a rusty red colour following an iron oxide spill.
— image credit: Tyler Olsen

As Matsqui Slough returns to its normal colour, the company behind an iron oxide spill last week says it has taken steps to prevent any future incidents.

Last Tuesday, Matsqui Slough turned a rusty red colour, prompting concern from a Harris Road resident. The cause of the discolouration was revealed to have been an iron oxide spill at Abbotsford Concrete, which operates a facility on McCallum Road.

Abbotsford Concrete representative Bob Leach, told the News that "the spill was caused by a burst water source spraying water on to one of our bags of red dye." The dye – composed of red iron oxide, a relatively common earthly compound – then made its way into a storm sewer on McCallum Road.

"In our 25-year history in Abbotsford this has never happened. Although we consider this a very isolated incident, we have taken measures to ensure it will not happen again."

An environmental consultant has been hired by the company and water samples have been taken.

While details have not yet been received, the provincial environmental ministry says an early safety review "did not indicate any major toxicity concerns," as iron oxide is a common component of the earth.

The water has since returned to its normal colour and the water is being monitored to ensure it meets Health Canada guidelines for drinking water.

The province is responsible for assessing and mitigating any environmental effects while enforcement issues are being handled by the federal environment ministry.

Mark Johnson, a spokesperson with the federal environment ministry, could say little about his department's activity in regards to the slough.

"We're at the information gathering point here," he said. "From a law-enforcement perspective, it's not our practice to divulge any information we collect prior to or during any investigation."

Neither ministry could speak to what, if any, effect the incident could have on the slough's ecosystem. Calls to Fisheries and Oceans Canada were not returned.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

B.C.-only wines to come to some grocery stores
 
Hunters protest shift favouring non-residents
 
Virk shuffled to new job after Kwantlen flap
Penticton families receive Christmas cheer with hampers
 
Dognapping victim returned to Penticton SPCA
 
Western News parent company completes deal with Glacier Media
Lakers thrive in exhibition series
 
#UsedHelps: Connecting Business with Canadian Charities
 
Camera-toting witness helps Penticton police