Bid for class action lawsuit lauched over July fuel spill in southeast B.C.

VANCOUVER – Some B.C. residents hope to have a class action lawsuit certified over the spill of 35,000 litres of jet fuel last month in southeast British Columbia.

On July 26, a tanker truck carrying fuel for fire-fighting helicopters tumbled off a logging road in the Slocan Valley, spilling most of its load into area waterways.

The suit, which alleges neglignce and nuisance, names the province of British Columbia and Executive Flight Centre as defendants.

The class action is brought by resident Robert Kirk and some neighbours in the spill zone on either side of Lemon Creek.

In a statement with the filing, Kirk says an ad hoc fuel depot was set up in an environmentally sensitive area without due care and the spill created a dead zone.

The lawsuit also alleges the province used aircraft to fight a forest fire with fuel-contaminated water, causing further harm. None of the allegations have been tested in court.

The lawsuit seeks relief and an order requiring the defendants to meaningfully consult an independent environmental scientist with regards to ecological monitoring and remediation.

The defendants will have 21 days from being served to file a statement of defence, after which the plaintiff will seek to have the action certified.

Within hours of the spill, an evacuation order was expanded to 2,500 people in the Slocan Valley as fuel contaminated area waterways.

On Tuesday, some of the water restrictions put in place after the spill were lifted.

Health officials said it was safe for residents to use water from the Kootenay River above and below the Brilliant Dam. But a do-not-use order remains in place for residents who draw water from Lemon Creek and the Slocan River.

Since the spill, some residents have complained of health problems including skin rashes, fumes in furniture and clothing and economic hardships.

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