When there was a chemical spill in the parking lot of Big Country Storage around 1:50 a.m. on Sept. 22, 100 Mile House Fire Rescue firefighters responded quickly and with numbers.
The driver of the semi-trailer truck discovered the spill when he opened the trailer’s back doors to unload the cargo. He contacted authorities immediately and Fire Rescue teams were the first to arrive on the scene.
The driver and fire chief Roger Hollander worked together to determine the chemical was highly corrosive and reactive sodium hydroxide.
Hollander called CANUTEC – the Canadian Transport Emergency Centre operated by the Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Directorate of Transport Canada – and got the technical advice they needed. Firefighters stopped the chemical from getting into a sewer drain, contacted the proper authorities and blocked off the roadway to the parking lot and the secondary school across.
Mayor Mitch Campsall said he was extremely proud of how the firefighters handled the situation.
There was one small hiccup during the operation, however.
Emergency notifications were sent throughout the Cariboo region advising about the hazardous materials incident in 100 Mile House.
The District of 100 Mile House sent the emergency notification through the Cariboo Chilcotin Emergency Notification System, but instead of only notifying the folks who had signed up for the service, it was mistakenly sent to all landlines list in the white pages for the Cariboo region.
Campsall said he took full responsibility for the error and apologized for any inconvenience it caused.
However, he added the business owners and the staff and students were alerted about the road being closed down and not to come to work or school that day.
“It was the first time we had to initiate an alert, so we’ll learn by our mistake. The system worked very well, though.”