A tank failure on an Agassiz farm saw around 1.6 million gallons of manure released into the surrounding farmland.
According to Patrick Stephens, engineering and environmental services coordinator at the District of Kent, a manure tank failed on an Agassiz farm on Sunday, Feb. 14. The incident was immediately reported to the district and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy by the property owner.
The district said there was around 1.6 million gallons of manure lost from the tank. Exactly how and why the tank failed isn’t clear, and an investigation is underway.
Local farmers constructed a series of earth dams on the property to contain the manure and stop it from entering the McCallum Ditch, which is connected to the property by a small tributary, Stephens said. The farmers worked for 26 hours straight using tractors with liquid manure spreaders to move the manure on the fields.
The Ministry of Environment did note that some manure had entered the McCallum Ditch. The property owner has hired an environmental consultant to assist with assessment and mitigation strategies.
The McCallum Ditch is home to endangered Salish Suckers, as well as the endangered Oregon Spotted Frogs and the red-listed Northern Red-Legged Frogs, and is a spawning stream for Coho salmon. Manure in the McCallum Ditch could cause the area would become saturated with nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. This saturation, called nutrient loading, can be toxic to aquatic species because it can reduce oxygen levels in the water.
Ministry and district staff visited the site over the weekend, and conducted an assessment of the McCallum Ditch about 500 metres downstream from farm at Cameron Road. Ministry staff were also on site today, collecting water samples from the McCallum Ditch and areas further downstream.
The water samples will be analyzed for contaminants, and will look at the impacts of nutrient loading on oxygen demands for the waterway.
Additional input is being gathered from other agencies and neighbouring First Nations for an impact assessment, according to the ministry.
Correction: an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the tank was able to hold 6 million gallons of manure, based on information from the Ministry of Environment. One of the people who were involved in dealing with the spill indicated the tank only held 1.6 million gallons when full. The changes have been made in the article and we regret the error.