A class action lawsuit that followed the Lemon Creek fuel spill in the Slocan Valley has been greenlighted for the highest provincial court in B.C.
On Jan. 26, 2013, a tanker truck carrying high octane jet fuel for helicopters fighting a wildfire in the area slid down a ditch after taking a turn onto a poorly-maintained, porous road next to the creek.
Approximately 35,000 litres of the fuel poured out into the water stream, which leads down to the Slocan River, prompting an evacuation order for more than 2,000 area residents, and led to fish and other wildlife along the bank suffering from the substance.
The fuel "caused harm and even death among the aquatic life," in Lemon Creek and in the Slocan River downstream, according to a previous provincial court judgment in the case.
Criminal proceedings would find that both the driver, as well as his employer Executive Flight Centre, had violated the Environmental Management Act, and were both fined significantly. Meanwhile, the proceedings dealing with the damages for residents, who lost enjoyment of their living space, and some losing crops and produce which were contaminated by the spill, were stalled repeatedly following an appeals process.
But last week, the B.C Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for a class-action lawsuit to be litigated, where the court is to determine what liability each of the parties had: the fuel company, driver, or the province, that was responsible for maintenance of the precarious road.
Vancouver-based lawyer David Rosenberg told KCR News he has been fighting the case for the past nine years.
“I represent, in this case, thousands of people who suffered and have had no acknowledgement from the province or anyone else that they are responsible, and they have had no remedy,” Rosenberg said. “The thousands of people who have gone nine years without justice haven’t had access to justice.”
Executive Flight Centre did not return a request for comment for this story.
The 2013 Lemon Creek oil spill and the legal fallout–listen to this story from KCR News: