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Slocan residents rally to clean fuel spill on their own

Shauna Teare
By Shauna Teare
August 19th, 2013

In the aftermath of the jet fuel spill into Lemon Creek and the Slocan River, residents brainstormed to create their own solutions for clean up as Executive Flight Centre, whose tanker spilled 33,000 liters of jet fuel into Lemon Creek on July 26, some feel is neglecting to fully clean up their mess.

On Aug.12, residents gathered in a grassroots Solutions Symposium where they formulated solutions to the environmental disaster in the Slocan Valley.

“We are coming together as a community working towards a vibrant healthy watershed again, with or without Executive Flight Center’s help,” says Shauna Teare, symposium facilitator and member of Valley Permaculture Guild. The symposium, a World Café style discussion, gave voice to all attending residents as they worked with experts to create solutions to issues such as fish and wildlife impacts, emergency response, human health and bioremediation.

One outcome of the symposium has the small valley community now hosting two skilled Bio Remediation experts; Anita M. Burke and Leila Darwish. For seven days Burke and Darwish, experienced bio-remediators and earth repair activists, will begin a grassroots community effort in Winlaw (bios attached below).

An ongoing Indiegogo fundraising campaign, established by the community to help cover expenses for the experts has begun. A portion of the funds from White Crows Farms event, “The Field”, will also help cover costs. Burke and Darwish will be working with local groups like the Streamkeepers, who have been diligently working on earth and water care prior to this ecosystem trauma.

The workshop “Grass Roots Bioremediation” begins Aug. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Winlaw elementary school, and will be designed to help residents restore the river’s ecology using micro-organisms, fungi and plants to detox contaminated environments and heal the ecosystem.

The Interior Health Authority lifted the, “Do Not Use”, restrictions on the Slocan River on Aug. 9, yet acknowledged the presence of jet fuel still in the river. Concerned residents have provided dozens of videos and photographic accounts of slicks and froths remaining, water sample evidence has been collected where residents’ tap water still contains fuel.

Teare says Executive Flight Centre is declaring much of the fuel “unrecoverable” and she feels they have pulled out and reduced much of the clean up operations while jet fuel contamination proliferates in back eddies, log jams, and along shore lines. The Interior Health Authority has since declared that residents should “use caution” when accessing water for drinking, irrigating and recreation, although tourists and some residents continue to use the contaminated river for tubing, swimming, and leisure pursuits.

Donations can be made at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/slocan-valley-community-remediation-fund

Anita M. Burke

Anita has been on the frontlines of some of the worlds most devastating oil spills. She is one of a handful of survivors of the EXXON Valdez oil spill and will share her stories of the health effects, the ecosystem impacts, and how we can survive and thrive amidst the trauma of an oil spill event and the recovery.

The community and visitors will be able to ask her questions and share their fears and concerns in service to healing the emotional, physical and spiritual wounds of an industrial trauma.

She also brings a depth of knowledge on appropriate remediation technologies and approaches. As well, she has an “insiders” knowledge of how the inner workings of the ministry, oil and gas industry and responsible parties will spin information. Her commitment is to serve and encourage the community with facts to assist them in holding those responsible for proper information and action.

Anita has been on the front lines of the EXXON Valdez oil spill, designed technical solutions and remediation strategies for over 1500 contaminated sites in the NW and Alaska. She is a trained Incident Commander and also served as an environmental, health and safety manager at a petroleum refinery. She is a pioneer in utilizing non-invasive bioremediation techniques to clean up the earth.

Leila Darwish

Leila is the author of the recently published Earth Repair, a book specifically designed as a handbook for grassroots bioremediation. Leila Darwish is a community organizer,permaculture practitioner and rabble rouser with a deep commitment to environmental justice, food sovereignty, and to providing accessible and transformative tools for communities dealing with toxic contamination of their land and drinking water. She is the author of the upcoming book “Earth Repair: A Grassroots Guide to Healing Toxic and Damaged Landscapes”,  which was released New Society Publishers in June 2013.

Over the last decade, she has worked as a community organizer for different environmental organizations and community groups in Alberta, BC and the USA on campaigns such as tar sands, fracking, nuclear energy, coal, climate justice, water protection, and more.She has also given workshops on grassroots bioremediation and earth repair for a diversity of groups and organizations, such as Langara College, The Victoria Compost Education Centre, The Purple Thistle Centre, The Radical Mycology Convergence, The Art of Mycorenewal,The Village Building Convergence, Mother Earth News Fair, The Urban Farmer Field School, Knowing the Land is Resistance, OPIRG, Santropol Roulant, The Stop Community Food Centre, and The Cowichan Land Trust.

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