Dozens of vehicles of all makes and models, many appearing new, were lined up on a Highway 3B property in late summer. Marked as contaminated by the Trail acid spills, the cars, trucks, and SUVs were hauled off to the junk yard. (Sheri Regnier photo)

ICBC claims hit 4,200 after acid spills on B.C. highway

ICBC: Notice of Claim was filed, in part, to mitigate impact the spills may have on insurance rates

Claims stemming from two sulphuric acid spills on the highway through Trail stand at about 4,200.

At last count, 400 vehicles had been written off due to contamination, though a final tally will not be available for months.

ICBC started a lawsuit – or Notice of Civil Claim – against a number of “negligent parties” in early October.

Details on the case, such as responses from the defendants, are expected to be slow-coming now that the file sits before the Vancouver Registry of the B.C. Supreme Court.

“Regarding the Notice of Civil Claim, that’s now before the courts,” began ICBC spokesperson Lindsay Wilkins. “And that process, including responses from the named parties, will likely take a number of months.”

As far as volume of claims to date, Wilkins says the number of new applications is dwindling as time goes on.

Importantly, most of the ICBC vehicle inspections as-of-late, are testing negative for contamination.

“We have now estimated approximately 90 per cent of these claims,” Wilkins told the Trail Times. “And the overwhelming majority have been deemed as having no exposure related to the sulfuric acid spills.”

Hundreds of vehicles have been deemed total losses so far, she added.

“But (we) won’t have a final number to share until all of our estimates are complete and claims are fully settled with our customers.”

Locals who drive by the Trail claims office may have noticed fewer cars this month, some days no cars, lining the highway next to the site. Additionally, fewer cars have been parked at the side of the building marked with a red ticket, which signals contamination.

“We have done all we can to process these claims as thoroughly but efficiently as possible to give our customers peace of mind,” Wilkins said. “While we would anticipate that customers who feel their vehicle may have been exposed to sulfuric acid from the two spills would have already reported their claim with us, they are still free to do so if not.”

Four weeks ago, the corporation announced it would be “seeking financial relief for the loss of, or damage to, vehicles caused by the sulfuric acid spills in Trail earlier this year, as well as related costs and expenses.”

Collectively identified as “Corporate Defendants” are Westcan Bulk Transport, International Raw Materials (IRM), the U.S company that buys sulphuric acid from Teck, and Teck itself.

Two commercial truck drivers were noted in the claim as were the City of Trail and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, the latter two named as “municipal defendants.”

“Once we receive formal notification of the Notice of Civil Claim, the matter will be referred to our insurer, the Municipal Insurance Authority (MIA),” Mayor Mike Martin said Oct. 11. “As this will now be a legal proceeding, we are not in a position to comment any further at this time.”

Lastly, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and Ministry of Environment are listed as “Crown Defendants.”

On Tuesday, April 10 approximately 220 litres of sulphuric acid was spilled intermittently on a 16-kilometre (km) stretch of Highway 3B beginning at the Rossland Avenue intersection and ending at the reload centre in Waneta.

According to a joint release by Teck and IRM, the spill occurred between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Responders were on the scene by 9:30 a.m. the companies stated, and clean up was completed by 2 p.m.

The second sulphuric acid spill is reported to have occurred between 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 23. In that incident, approximately 70 litres of acid was intermittently leaked over a 6-km distance of Highway 3B starting from the Rossland Avenue intersection and ending near Highway Drive in Glenmerry.

Teck and IRM stated that responders were on scene by 7:30 p.m. and clean up was completed at approximately 11:15 p.m.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘How not to handle social isolation concerns’: Victoria police respond to confrontation with firearm

Police seize replica firearms after one resident confronts another over social distancing

Fairfield gas station fire deemed arson

Police looking for witnesses, video of 2:30 a.m. April 5 fire

Saanich swimmer Lauren Crisp in running for rookie-of-the-year

Saanich swimmer Lauren Crisp, Oak Bay’s Diego Maffia in running for rookie-of-the-year

Victoria company compares drone footage of city streets between August and now

Fewer cars, people seen on streets and at landmarks

Sidney senior grateful for stranger’s help during medical incident

Hendrina Welter never caught a glimpse of the woman who helped her after she blacked out

As 240K apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

COVID-19 world update: 1,000 cases hit U.S. military; Good news in Spain, Portugal

Comprehensive collection of coronavirus news from around the world

Vancouver Island teen singer advances to American Idol top 20

Lauren Spencer-Smith performs Respect at outdoor concert in Hawaii

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open this week

Bars, cannabis sector eligible for $40B credit program from government bank

Applicants must go through their own banks to access the program

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

Most Read