People who live near Catalyst Paper’s Crofton Mill found their homes, cars, and children’s toys covered in an oily mess this morning.
The company admits it’s responsible, after a mechanical breakdown sprayed residual liquor into the air for about half an hour. Catalyst says the substance isn’t toxic, but neighbours are upset the company isn’t taking charge of cleaning it up.
Laurellynne Greaves lives near the mill, and found the substance covering her garden plants, a tent set up in her yard, and her pear tree.
“It looks like someones sprayed it with oil, its all over the leaves,” she said while looking over her plants. “That’s disgusting.”
“We’ve got a whole pear tree wasted, you’ve got people with damaged stuff, its on their kids bikes, its on their kids toys, its on peoples strollers, and what are they going to do about it?”
Mike Alfano was trying to wash his car when the liquid started raining from the sky around 930am.
“And all of a sudden i see this brown liquid fall on it, i wiped it and it was like an oil gross smelling stuff,” he said. “It was from the mill and it was everywhere.”
Catalyst says its still investigating exactly what happened, but is confirming a mechanical failure at the Crofton plant, sent a spray of residual liquor into the air for half an hour, from 930 to 10am.
“We’re following up, people please remain calm, the event is behind us the event did begin and end and it ended this morning,” said Catalyst Crofton environment manager Brian Houle.
Houle told neighbours the liquor should dissolve in water and isn’t harmful to health. He says the dark colour comes from wood fibre, and the liquor that has landed on homes and cars can be cleaned with soap and water.
But the neighbours are still upset they’re being told to clean it themselves, and not getting help from Catalyst crews.
“They accept that its coming [from the mill] but why is it our problem?,” asked Susan Bousquet. “Why do we have to clean it up, they say if we don’t wash it right away its going to solidify.”
“It’s not fallout from us, it’s not because of anything that we did,” said Greaves. “It’s somebody else’s responsibiloity, so own it. That’s not respectful, telling people to get out there and clean it up. It’s not my job, it’s your job.”
Apologies to Crofton neighbors. A malfunction this morning ejected some spent pulping liquor. Contact us 250-246-6100 if you were affected
— Catalyst Paper (@catalystpaper) August 13, 2016
Catalyst told CHEK News that anyone whose property been affected can call the Crofton mill, at 250-246-6100, and crews will come around “to have a look.”
The Ministry of Environment has been notified about the event. A spokesperson said the principle in BC is that polluters are responsible, and the ministry will be following up with the company.
The Crofton mill has suffered from a string of maintenance issues this year. In Catalyst’s second-quarter earning report released at the end of July, the company told investors a combination of planned and unplanned repairs and replacements at the plant cost a total of approximately $13.8 million in maintenance spending and lost production.
The company also reported that a breach in the Crofton mill’s main water line in April led to water outage that cost the company $3.1 million, though it has recovered $1.1 million from insurance.