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Quesnel company describes spilled effluent as a water softener backwash

Liquid spilled by a West Fraser Timber MDF plant was being pumped to nearby pulp mill
WestPine MDF plant was the site of a large effluent spill. The company called the substance “water softener backwash.” The Ministry of Environment confirmed it did not impact the adjacent Fraser River. (Google Maps image)

The 2.5-million litres of liquid substance that spilled at WestPine MFD factory in Quesnel was being piped between that operation and a nearby pulp mill.

According to the factory’s owner, West Fraser Timber, it was the company’s own system that made the discovery.

“On Monday, April 15, West Fraser’s internal monitoring system detected a leak of process water, comprised of water softener backwash, on a line running from the WestPine Medium-Density Fibreboard (MDF) plant to Quesnel River Pulp, where it is processed,” said West Fraser spokesperson Joyce Wagenaar.

“West Fraser reported the spill immediately to our regulator and undertook a cleanup effort which is now complete. West Fraser is committed to being responsible stewards of the environment and protecting the health and safety of our employees and the public.”

The B.C. Ministry of environment said they were notified at about 4:30 p.m. on April 15. They have ascertained that “2.5-million litres of effluent spilled into a gravel pit when a valve was compromised causing a leak. No waterways are suspected to be impacted at this time.”

A ministry assessment of the liquid and its effects were still being assessed as of publication time.

READ MORE: Effluent spill at WestPine plant in Quesnel

READ MORE: Amid challenges, West Fraser says Thank You, Quesnel: A Look Back at 2023

Frank Peebles

About the Author: Frank Peebles

I started my career with Black Press Media fresh out of BCIT in 1994, as part of the startup of the Prince George Free Press, then editor of the Lakes District News.
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