A Victoria exterior cleaning company has been hit with a five-figure fine from the province after bleach spilled into a Sidney creek through a storm drain last year, killing hundreds of fish.
Elevate Exterior Washing Ltd. was issued an administrative penalty of $11,000 for the discharge of a roof de-mossing mixture containing bleach into Reay Creek, according to a June 20 environmental compliance report issued by Environmental Compliance BC.
The incident, which happened in June 2021, prompted the town of Sidney to ask Peninsula Streams Society to investigate after a five-year-old boy spotted dead fish in the creek and alerted his parents.
A two-day investigation recovered a total of 318 cutthroat trout, three cohos, 13 sculpins and 11 sticklebacks dead in the creek.
“It was pretty well every fish was dead,” said Ian Bruce, executive director of Peninsula Streams Society, in a 2021 interview with CHEK News.
While the contaminant was initially unknown, the persistent bleach smell and a sample collected from a nearby storm drain led Bruce to believe household bleach caused the deaths.
Bruce said the bleach likely wouldn’t hang around in the environment for long and noted that over the past 20 years, this latest incident was probably the seventh or eighth time he’s been called to a fish kill in Reay Creek.
“It’s an urban creek with an industrial area upstream, so these things do happen,” he added.
Elevate Exterior Washing Ltd. co-owner Nathan Bancroft tells CHEK News that his company has taken steps, including additional staff training, to ensure an incident like this doesn’t happen again. He notes an error with equipment was to blame for the spill.
Bancroft adds that although he and his business partner didn’t own the company at the time of the spill and the previous owners have paid the fine, he takes full responsibility for the incident.