BC Hydro’s Salmon River diversion project diverts water into the Campbell River system.

Salmon River diversion project workers exposed to creosote

Salmon Diversion Dam work revised to minimize creosote exposure

As the removal of the Salmon River Diversion Dam started on Monday three workers reported feeling sick because of odours from exposed creosote treated timbers, said Karla Louwers, a BC Hydro spokesperson.

The timber in the dam was treated with creosote as a preservative when it was first constructed in the 1950s.

“The workers notified management and work was stopped,” Louwers said. “Work practices have been revised and dam removal has re-commenced.”

BC Hydro has been working with Campbell River stakeholders, government fish agencies and First Nations since 2007 to make fish passage improvements to the Salmon River diversion facility.

The best long-term solution to improve fish passage on the Salmon River is to remove BC Hydro’s diversion dam and BC Hydro received regulatory approval in June to remove the dam.

The in-stream work for the decommissioning of the Salmon River Diversion started on July 1, the start of the extended summer fisheries in-stream work window.

“There was no lost time arising from this incident and there have been no further reports of adverse impacts from the odours,” Louwers said.

According to Environment Canada, creosote can affect human health in a variety of ways if worker exposure is not minimized.

Inhalation of the contaminant or dust, in excess of 0.2 milligrams per cubic metre of air, can cause irritation of the nose and throat as well as sweating, thirst, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain with subsequent convulsions or coma.