Officials from Crown Resources Corp. collected the wastewater samples from the truck to send to a third party for analysis. A previous version of this story erroneously reported the sample was collected by the state.
CHESAW — A truck carrying concentrated wastewater from the Buckhorn Mine crashed Tuesday and spilled about 4,200 gallons into Marias Creek.
The spill does not pose a threat to human health, said Mark Ioli, the mine’s general manager.
But pollutants in the water being removed from the minesite may be harmful to fish and aquatic life, the state Department of Ecology said. It was being hauled to the Key Mill tailings impound in Republic. The company collected a sample of the water from the truck and sent it to a third party for analysis, said Ecology spokeswoman Joye Redfield-Wilder.
Ioli said the truck driver pulled over on a Forest Service road at about 7 p.m. to let some traffic behind him pass when the shoulder gave way and the truck slid about 50 feet down a bank and landed on its top.
Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said the driver was taken to a hospital with bumps and bruises.
The spilled water contained concentrations of nitrates and sulfates that were removed from water collected from the mine and treated at the mine’s wastewater treatment plant.
Ioli said a typical sample of wastewater hauled from the treatment plant contains concentrations of sulfate that are approved for drinking water. He said concentrations of nitrates would be similar to the nitrates mixed with water to use as a lawn fertilizer.
Those concentrations could be dangerous to fish and aquatic life but the risk would quickly diminish as it mixed with the water in the creek, he said.
He said the truck driver works for Stotts Construction, which is under contract with Crown Resources Corp. to haul the wastewater from the mine’s treatment plant.
David Kliegman, executive director of the Okanogan Highlands Alliance, which monitors the mine after opposing its construction, said he was distressed to learn of the spill.
He said the close proximity of the Forest Service road to Marias Creek was one of his group’s concerns. “It was one of our worst fears when the Marias Creek haul road was proposed,” he said of the possibility of a spill.
Kliegman said concentrated levels of pollutants could harm fish and other aquatic life.
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512