Bob Wallas with one of several metal barrels of acetone he found in the bush near Coal Harbour.

Illegal dump spurs investigation

Who must remove barrels of solvent discovered hidden in the bush

COAL HARBOUR — Bob Wallas was frustrated in his attempts to get someone from government to get rid of several decomposing, industrial-sized  metal containers of a caustic solvent someone dumped in the bush.

Now the regional district and the Mounties are looking into the matter.

Wallas said he was walking his dogs about 50 metres down a logging road that runs off Coal Harbour Road, just beyond the Quatsino Reserve, when he spotted about a half-dozen 45-gallon barrels with stickers identifying the contents as acetone.

It appears the containers were simply dumped in the area, and the 58-year-old Coal Harbour man suspects there may be more buried under a hill of foliage very close to the visible barrels, some of which have rusted through.

“I’m curious to know how many barrels are really under there,” said Wallas, who also pointed out a few tubs ofdiscarded gear oil in the immediate area.

“It looks like someone took pains to hide them.”

There are no clear markings on the barrels that identify where they may have originated or where or if they were used locally.

Acetone, a highly flammable solvent, dissipates slowly in soil, but it’s a significant groundwater contaminant due to its high solubility in water.

Common wisdom is acetone may pose a significant risk of oxygen depletion in aquatic systems because of the microbial activity consuming it.

“There’s a marsh nearby and fish-bearing creeks and streams in the area,” he told the Gazette.

Wallas said he also believes the solvent could pose a risk to wildlife and called for help.

“I talked to a local (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) person, but he showed no interest at all and told me to call Environment Canada,” he said.

“At that point I felt it was a waste of time.”

Calls by the Gazette to Environment Canada were not returned by press time.

Someone who answered the phoned at DFO said reacting to things like the acetone is not their department, however they would back whatever decision Environment Canada made.

Meanwhile, Patrick Donaghy, manager of operations for the Regional District of Mount Waddington said he wants to know about finds like the acetone.

“When members of the public see something like that we’re interested because we want to work towards cracking down on illegal waste disposal,” he said.

“In many ways, it falls outside our legal area, but we work with the Ministry of the Environment, the conservation officers, DFO and the Ministry of Forests.”

Donaghy, who figures the barrels were dumped fairly recently, said he’s going to look around to see what kinds of businesses would use that much acetone.

The Port Hardy RCMP is also looking into the illegal dumping, in case there’s a connection between the acetone and a possible drug lab.

 

Just Posted

Vancouver Island woman to attempt historic swim across Juan de Fuca Strait today

Ultra-marathon swimmer Susan Simmons to attempt to swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back

Port McNeill Cannabis Committee stumbles out of the gate

“I’m worried we could just be all over the map and I need to see a plan.”

Port Alice’s new RCMP officers going through clearance process

The medical process can take several months to complete as there are several steps involved.

East Zeballos placed under evacuation alert as “out of control” wildfire approaches homes

BC Wildfire Service says rolling debris on steep terrain poses danger to firefighters

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

VIDEO: Ground crews keep a close eye on largest B.C. wildfire

Originally estimated to be 79,192 hectares, officials said more accurate mapping shows smaller size

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada paid for study to understand Canadian attitudes

These are the highest-paid actresses of 2018

In its list released this week Forbes said all 10 earned a total of $186 million before tax

VIDEO: Fires break out in scrap piles at mill on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo firefighters got blazes under control in early morning hours Saturday at Harmac Pacific

Most Read