Lack of information has its own impact

No information has been forthcoming about the spill of glue and fuel products into Shuswap Lake on March 14.

OK, why the silence?

Despite several phone calls and emails to Environment Canada, no information has been forthcoming about the spill of glue and fuel products into Shuswap Lake on March 14 near Canoe Forest Products’ log boom.

Calls to Environment and Climate Change Canada on March 16 were not returned and emails were acknowledged solely by a noncommittal, “Thank you for contacting Environment Canada media relations. We acknowledge receipt of your request and a media relations officer will get back to you as soon as possible.”

Interior Health’s original statement advised that thousands of litres of the toxic material had leaked into the lake – a point mill officials disputed the next day.

Aside from calling spill estimates in Interior Health’s initial release inaccurate, Canoe Forest Products has simply stated a leak discovered on March 7 has been repaired, there is no longer any discharge and mill officials are working with provincial and federal agencies “to determine what, if any, impacts there are as a result of this incident.”

While the City of Salmon Arm was told it could resume using the water intake from Shuswap Lake the next day because the pipe is in very deep water two kilometres away from the spill area, concerns about the spill remain,

Chief among them is the content of the glue used in the plywood plant.

It contains phenol formaldehyde resin, a concern to Interior Health. And what kind of fuel is included in the mix?

If thousands of litres is inaccurate, what is the correct amount of toxic material that washed into the lake?

Chief among the many questions is this: Why the secrecy?

The silence is already affecting the Shuswap economy. Robyn Cyr, Shuswap Tourism manager and economic development officer for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, says some tourism operators are already cancelling summer visits because of concerns about water in Shuswap Lake.

People hear “spill” and, without accurate information, can imagine it to be far beyond reality.

Shuswap residents deserve to hear from the government agencies their tax dollars support, sooner rather than later.