Fish waste being transported from Grieg Seafood spilled from a truck bringing the shipment to Salish Soils for composting on Feb. 19.
According to the First Nations composting facility, a total of two 30-metre streaks of the stinky substance was spilled from the truck when it turned up Black Bear Road.
Normally the containers are left with about 46 centimetres of space at the top to ensure loads don’t spill over when trucks tackle steep hills. In this instance, an improperly secured lid allowed water to accumulate inside, overfilling the container.
“Obviously the containers were overfilled and so what we’ve done is we’ve looked at our procedures about how we do that and we’ve actually reviewed the whole chain from farm all the way to Salish Soils to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. We’re very confident that we’ll be able to do that,” said Stewart Hawthorn, managing director of Grieg Seafood B.C., noting the lids will be inspected from now on.
Although the spill was attributable to Grieg, members of Salish Soils responded, cleaning up the smelly mess on the road leading to their facility.
“I went out to deal with it and put dry hog fuel on it, which soaks it up instead of just trying to hose it off the road,” said Salish Soils CEO Aaron Joe.
The hog fuel, which is essentially wood chips and sawdust, was left overnight to soak up the mess and shovelled into two large pails the next day.
Hawthorne thanked Salish Soils for their response and noted the fish waste was not a danger to the environment.
“Incidents like this don’t need to be reported and that’s because there are no hazardous materials involved,” Hawthorn said. “So the contents really presented no risk to anyone. In fact, in this case what was so good was the speed with which Salish Soils reacted. They were very quick and they dealt with it as soon as they were made aware of the incident.”
He said that if any of the waste made it into the ocean it would be “just like you would find in the wild.”
“Wild fish die from time to time and the same thing happens in our farms and so that’s all this was — fish that we’ve removed from the pens — and we were just trying to find a responsible way to dispose of them,” Hawthorn said.
The main concern was cleaning up the mess and containing the smell, Joe said, adding his company has been working to address issues with odour at their composting facility.
The indoor mixing facility at Salish Soils is almost complete and Joe believes it will solve the odour problems that arise when fish waste is mixed into the compost, a procedure that currently takes place outdoors.
“We’re doing what we said we were going to do,” Joe said. “We’re about three weeks to having the building complete and operational.”