Alberni-Ucluelet highway re-opens after fuel spill

6:52 p.m.: Highway 4 has reopened to two-way traffic, Drive B.C. says.

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Highway 4 has reopened to single-lane, alternating traffic, according to Drive B.C.

The highway was closed after a fuel-truck spill Thursday between Port Alberni and the Ucluelet/Tofino junction.

The tanker truck spilled up to 3,000 litres of fuel when it tipped on its side. The road was immediately closed in both directions near Hydro Hill East and Kennedy Lake, approximately 33 km east of the Ucluelet/Tofino junction.

No detour is available, which makes life difficult for Tofino and Ucluelet residents.

“At this point, people can only come into this community by marine or by air,” said Karla Robison, Ucluelet’s environment and emergency services manager.

“A few kilometres closer to the junction and it could have been re-routed. But there’s no other detour.”

Eight members of the Ucluelet Volunteer Fire Brigade were at the scene just before 3 p.m. Thursday to assist, Robison said. Environmental emergencies, include hazardous spills, fall under the stewardship of the Ministry of Environment and its Emergency Management B.C. team, she added.

The highway was closed “because of potential fumes in the area and concerns for the safety of the traveling public,” according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

“We will continue to work with the environmental experts as they address this issue and have resources on standby to open the highway at the first available opportunity.”

Robison didn’t know the name of the company or person who owned the truck, but was told the driver was not injured. An accident of this magnitude is not something that occurs often, she said.

“I’ve been doing this job for five years and this is the only situation I can think of,” she said.

An investigation by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement branch, working with local officials, is underway, the ministry said.

More information about the road closure can be found at DriveBC.ca.

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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