Interior Health has removed the water use advisory on the Shuswap Lake shoreline near Canoe Forest Products.
Residents were advised to avoid both drinking water and recreational use of a 300-metre area, established immediately following a spill of run-off water at the mill on March 14. It was reduced to 100 metres the following day, with the advisory remaining in place until now.
“The water sample results obtained from Environment and Climate Change Canada and follow-up tests by Interior Health and Canoe Forest Products show there are very low levels of contaminants (including formaldehyde),” reads a May 27 Interior Health press release. “These levels do not pose a risk to water users in the area.”
Marcello Angelozzi, Canoe Forest Products site manager, says initial reports that thousands of litres of contaminated water entered the lake were inaccurate.
“While thousands of litres of water were pumped out (of the basement), there were probably 100 which escaped out of the containment area.”
Environment and Climate Change Canada has not confirmed its estimation of the size of the spill.
Although the water did contain trace amounts of formaldehyde from the glue used in the plywood process, the spill happened when the water in the lake was very low and the leak was probably 100 yards away from the foreshore, Angelozzi says.
“As part of our corporate responsibility, we want to continue to be stewards of the lake,” he says, noting the company has been on the lake for 52.
“We’re working with a Kelowna contractor to mitigate any risk to the lake and while everything drains to the lake from our site, we always do our best to make sure nothing gets in.”
Nevertheless, Angelozzi says company officials acknowledge their responsibility and take the March 14 incident very seriously.
“It doesn’t change the fact that it happened; the guys should have known it was getting out of containment,” he said. “We regret that it happened, but the bigger question is the good that came out of it. “