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

Cowichan Capitals add two points to lead over Clippers

Tensions between rivals come to a head in third period

Work has started on Malahat Skywalk, expected completion in 2021

$15-million project expected to open in spring, 2021

Baby Bear statue returned to be reunited with Mama and Papa

Culprit left it near the Henry Road roundabout in Chemainus with a note attached

Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre launches new project

The Nature Centre’s goal is to continue to engage the local community

Isles offence picks up against Peninsula

Kerry Park better at both ends of the ice in winless weekend

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

Off-duty Nanaimo Mountie takes down would-be ice cream thief

Suspect attempted to steal Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen location on Sunday

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

Nanaimo man hit with pole in dispute over off-leash dog

RCMP say no charges recommended at this time

Was there a tornado on Vancouver Island Monday?

Suspected phone app glitch gives eerie warning

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Bystander who tried to help dog being attacked not liable for its death: B.C. tribunal

Owner of dog killed tried to get $5,000 in damages from man who tried to save it

Most Read