Langley Township fire chief Stephen Gamble says his department calls on private contractors to deal with hazardous material situations.

Council will cover balance of mercury spill clean-up costs

Recent immigrant was billed $850 by Langley Township fire department after calling 911 about a broken thermometer and minor mercury spill.

Langley Township council has decided to cover the outstanding balance a home owner owes from an $850 clean-up. The fire department sent her the bill after a few drops of mercury spilled onto her kitchen floor last year.

At Monday’s meeting, council directed staff to cover what is left of the bill. The homeowner was paying the fire department in monthly installments but stopped paying recently, said fire chief Stephen Gamble. There was about $500 still owing.

The discussion to pay the home owner’s bill was made in a Nov. 4 special closed council meeting.

On Nov. 5, Councillor Kim Richter took to social media calling the decision to bill the home owner “over the top.”

“What happened here is just simply wrong — from start to finish,” said Richter.

Recently, Gamble spoke with The Times and defended his department’s decision to send the $850 clean-up bill.

On April 4, 2012, a mother of two, who is fairly new to the country, called 911 after she accidentally broke a thermometer. A few drops of mercury spilled out onto her kitchen floor. The woman had come to Canada from the Ukraine.

Gamble said the fire department was dispatched to a “hazmat” call at a residential home in Willoughby.

Gamble said his firefighters followed protocol and did the right thing by calling in a private company they use to do hazmat clean ups. The private company it called is based in Richmond.

It billed the homeowner for travel time and other expenses, and the original bill was in the thousands of dollars. After negotiations between the fire department and the woman, it was dropped to $850.

Gamble said the fire department doesn’t have the equipment or the training to handle hazardous material situations, even something as simple as a drop of mercury.

“If I ordered crews to clean it up that would be against WorkSafe BC regulations,” Gamble said.

The federal ministry of environment said only with “big spills” that a private company should be called in. There are simple instructions on Environment Canada’s website, directing people what they can do to clean up, when a few drops of mercury are spilled.

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

Just Posted

BREAKING: Gabby’s Country Cabaret announces ‘heartbreaking’ permanent closure

Owner Steve Gallagher ‘holds out hope’ of a new future for the 35-year-old nightlife hotspot

Aldergrove’s drive-in theatre stops showing films after 50-car limit comes into effect

Tuesday night was exceptionally quiet at Metro Vancouver’s only drive-in theatre –… Continue reading

VIDEO: Semi-truck rolls over into ditch on Glover Road

There was no reports of any serious injuries but traffic is delayed in both directions

VIDEO: Langley Community Music School Fiddlers release series of video recordings

Year-end concert covers include Cripple Creek, Tennessee Waltz, and a bevy of Beatles tunes

Councillors spar with developer over Willoughby shopping site

Council argued over density, mixed-use, and the definition of “strip mall” on Monday

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Aldergrove Star to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Officials looking for answers after Abbotsford football star found dead in Sask. lake

Saskatchewan Health Authority looking into circumstances surrounding Samwel Uko’s hospital visit

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

Most Read