A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times

2 years after huge highway acid spill, Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

AM Ford owner Dan Ashman just wants fair compensation for vehicles affected by acid spills that occurred on the highway through Trail in April and May of 2018.

Ashman says that ICBC is using a technicality to avoid paying claims on 13 vehicles traded into AM Ford before consequences of the April 10 and May 23, 2018 acid spills were realized in Trail.

The effects of the spill on vehicles did not come to light until a July 5 Trail Times article revealed that 19 claims were filed with ICBC due to vehicles driving through the caustic liquid.

ICBC has since rejected the dealerships claims totalling about $140,000, and, as a result, Ashman has been forced to use a clause in the sales contract to shift that burden to his customers by taking legal action.

In turn, he expects his customers to sue ICBC.

“If you don’t declare damage over $2,000 when you trade your vehicle in you’re in breach of your contract,” Ashman told the Trail Times.

Related read: Cars being junked after acid spill on Trail highway

In this rare case, both the customer and dealer had no way of knowing that any damage had occurred, and although both parties were insured at the time of the incident, neither can make claims to ICBC.

ICBC refused to cover AM Ford under their compulsory public liability insurance, or the original owners of the vehicles because they no longer owned the vehicles.

Suing your own customers is not good for business, especially in a small community, and the stress it has caused over more than two years has taken its toll on both Ashman and his customers.

“I want this thing to go away,” said Ashman. “I shouldn’t be put in a position where I have to sue my customers, who are also ICBC customers. It’s a heavy-handed, untoward approach by ICBC.”

Related read: Teck Trail suspends trucking company after second spill

Westcan Bulk Transport was transporting sulphuric acid from Teck Trail operations to the IRM Transload Station in Waneta when the spills occurred. The first extended 16 kilometres from the plant, through town, and out to the reload station. The May 23 spill stretched approximately five km along Highway 3B from the smelter to Shavers Bench.

At the time of the first spill, Westcan sent out a statement saying; “Anyone who was travelling in the vicinity at the time of the release and is concerned that their vehicle may have come in contact with the product should run their vehicle through an automatic car wash as a precaution to safely dilute and remove any residue.”

According to ICBC, about 4,800 claims related to the acid spills were filed, and 480 or 10 per cent of those vehicles were found to be exposed to the acid and deemed total losses.

Due to the overwhelming number of claims, ICBC facilities could not respond to inspect the AM Ford’s vehicles in a timely manner, so Ashman had an independent insurer inspect them.

ICBC informed Ashman, that “(It) has never tested any of your vehicles so we have no evidence that any of your vehicles were affected by acid spills.

“There was no contractual relationship in place between your dealership and ICBC when the alleged damage occurred. Accordingly, there is no ICBC Insurance policy to cover your potential losses,” wrote Brenda Adlem, senior legal counsel for ICBC, in a June 13, 2019 letter provided by Ashman.

According to ICBC, the insurer “retained a technical expert to help us review individual claims. As the spills were caused by other parties, ICBC has also taken legal action against the parties involved in an effort to recoup losses on behalf of our ratepayers.”

In April 2019, ICBC filed a notice of civil claim against corporate defendants Teck, IRM, and Westcan Bulk Transport, in addition to two commercial truck drivers, municipal defendants the City of Trail and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Ministry of Environment as Crown defendants.

ICBC’s claim is before the court so it cannot discuss further details.

For Ashman, after more than 35 years of paying public insurance to ICBC, he believes a more practical resolution than expensive litigation be considered.

“They are trying to hang their hat on a technicality and a publicly owned insurance company that’s owned by the citizens of B.C. should not be trying to do that.”



sports@trailtimes.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City of TrailICBCkootenay

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

Just Posted

Tyson Popove placed second in his category at the Mt. Washington Viewtour Virtual Slopestyle event. Photo by Shawn Corrigan
Campbell River skier goes big at Mt. Washington competition

Tyson Popove places second in virtual slopestyle event

Elk Falls plunges into the canyon during a high flow event. Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror file
Water flows down Elk Falls Canyon to increase to accommodate steelhead migration

Public safety advisory in place for the river from John Hart Dam to Elk Falls during the migration flows

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead on Quadra Island

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

The Downtown Safety Select Committee has floated the idea of removing the glass on the Spirit Square stage structure in the winter. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Proposed Spirit Square glass removal disables sheltered gathering place, advocates say

Downtown Safety Select Committee floats idea of removing glass roof from public facility

John Hart Dam near Campbell River, B.C. BC Hydro photo
John Hart Dam project will move massive amounts of earthfill

The John Hart Dam seismic upgrade will truck more than twice as… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Island teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

Ella Donovan with mom Tina outside Fuller Lake Arena before heading onto the ice for practice. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Young Ladysmith skater watches and waits in battle against cancer

Ella Donovan’s tumour began a tumultuous time, but community support eased the burden

Campbell River’s new hospital, July 2018
Comox Starthcona hospital district moves on budget with tax cut

At $12.6 million, budget requisition represents drop of $4.4 million for current year

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

Most Read