As of Aug. 2, ICBC has received 388 claims related to the May 23 sulphuric acid spill in Trail. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Hundreds turn to ICBC after Kootenay acid spill damages cars

Undercarriages, frames and suspensions are being examined for signs of sulfuric acid contamination

The number of ICBC claims has skyrocketed from 19 to 388, one month after a Trail Times reader tipped the newspaper about the fallout from the May 23 acid spill in town.

The reader had just received an insurance cheque – this was in early July – because her car was a “total loss” after she drove through a section of highway in Trail that was slick with sulphuric acid.

The caustic substance eats away at metal, especially aluminum. If a car is splashed with the acid, vehicle breakdown will follow, and that usually begins in the brake calipers.

She wanted to warn others about this public safety risk and urge them to get in touch with their insurance carrier to have their vehicles checked.

Interestingly, only hours after the Times published the story, a newspaper employee took the advice.

READ MORE: Cars junked after acid spill

READ MORE: Changes made after spill

READ MORE: Trail acid spill

She had driven right through the acid on May 23 thinking it was water, though she recalls “it smelled funny.”

After finding out about the spill the next morning, her husband made a few calls and was told to take the mid-size Subaru through a car wash. He did one better and pressure-washed the vehicle that afternoon.

And that was that.

Until she read the July 6 story about cars being written-off because ICBC had deemed them unsafe.

“We called and told ICBC I drove through the acid, and they started the claim,” she explained. “They came to our home and towed it. That was it, it’s gone.”

Like the reader, she loved her car and gave it up only because there was no other choice.

She says her settlement was fair, but the hunt is on for a second-hand car that will replace the 2006 Outback.

The May 23 spill was the second accidental sulphuric acid “release” from Westcan Bulk Transport this year.

The first time was the morning of April 10. In that incident, leaks began from Teck Trail and extended the 16-kilometre (km) run from the plant through town, and out to the Waneta re-load station. The May 23 spill stretched about five-km along Highway 3B from the smelter to Shavers Bench.

Of the 388 claims resulting from the latter incident, not all have been write-offs at this point.

“ICBC is currently reviewing all claims presented by customers to assess the extent of the damage caused by the spill,” ICBC stated via email Wednesday.

“We are still processing claims. Many, and possibly all vehicles that were exposed to the spill will have to be totally replaced,” the spokesperson said.

“However, ICBC will review each claim individually and make claims decisions based on the extent of the damage caused to each vehicle by the spill.”

Once drivers report their claim, ICBC estimating staff completes a full inspection of the vehicle to determine whether there is evidence that the vehicle drove through acid.

The undercarriages, frames and suspensions are examined for signs of sulfuric acid contamination.

The owner of the sulphuric acid, IRM (International Raw Materials), told the Times that a total of 80 litres was expelled – though there was no confirmation on the volume of each spill.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Time for some tick talk to keep people and pets safe from pests

Pesky creatures peak in June, but are out there lurking throughout summer and fall

Historic Hat Creek finds novel way to keep part of site open

VIP shopping experience offers people private visit to site’s gift shop

Cariboo ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

RCMP urge Williams Lake residents to be cautious as suspect remains on the loose

Man seen speeding on Highway 97 fled from police after colliding with RCMP vehicle

100 Mile’s longest-serving radio host continues to be off the air

Larry Rode is still recovering from a stroke

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Most Read