UPDATED: RCMP confirm methamphetamine lab, Interior Health issues water warning
Interior Health (IH) has issued a do not use order for water in an area near Bridesville after the RCMP confirmed the presence of a methamphetamine lab and arrested to men in the area.
The order, which came late Thursday, said the do not use order is in effect for water within a three kilometre radius of the intersection of Sanders Road and Johnstone Creek Road West, which is located between Rock Creek and Bridesville. This includes all water sources in that area.
While the original statement issued Wednesday said there was no risk for water from aquifers, wells or water users downstream along the Kettle River, an update issued Thursday afternoon changed the warning to include all water sources inside the zone.
"Environmental Health Officers are in the area today, hand delivering notices to residents in the impacted area (approximately 25 total properties)," reads the updated release. "Safe drinking water is being provided for the impacted residents at a filling station at the Rock Creek Fair Grounds.
"The communities of Bridesville, Rock Creek, and Midway are not impacted. There is no risk for water users outside of the three-kilometre zone," it continues.
RCMP issued a statement late Thursday afternoon, noting the arrest of two men in conjunction with a methamphetamine lab in the area. Once on site, RCMP suspected saw signs of dumping hazardous waste and involved Emergency Management BC.
"On March 1, members of the RCMP Federal Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement and Response Team (CLEAR) with the support of other RCMP Federal and Serious Organized Crime teams and regional detachments executed a search warrant on the rural property, seizing a significant quantity of illicit drugs, numerous weapons and arresting two men," said the statement.
"'We believe the sophisticated lab had the potential to produce significant amount of methamphetamine. In shutting it down we have prevented dangerous illicit drugs from reaching our communities,' says Sgt. Annie Linteau spokesperson for the BC RCMP in a statement. 'As disturbing though, was the dumping of hazardous chemicals on the property, which potentially could have harmed innocent people living in the area.'"
According to information from BC Spill Response, RCMp noted both liquid and solid waste from the lab "had been dumped into the ground. The exact content of the drug lab waste are unknown at this time."
RCMP confirmed they are working with IH and the Ministry of Environment and will remain on scene in the coming days. Charges are pending.
Area E/West Boundary director Vicki Gee said Thursday afternoon that she is advising residents that they will be able to access water via the Rock Creek Fairground by appointment, noting the RDKB is in conversation with the Ministry of Environment and Interior Health.
"It's just devastating," she said. "We have ranchers in the area and we do not know what the effects will be."
"The radius is a cautionary distance while [IH] investigates and tests," she added.
According to the press release, the notice follows a notification from the RCMP that a drug lab had been found to be depositing solvent and other “hazardous materials’ onto the soil in the area.
Interior Health said risk is considered low, but the do not use order is a precautionary measure until investigations and water testing are complete. Residents in the area, approximately 25 households, are being contacted.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.