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Run-off water containing glue, fuel products spills into B.C. lake

Speedboats gather near Copper Rock on Shuswap Lake near Salmon Arm, B.C. on July 8, 2010.

Jeff Bassett/The Globe and Mail

Interior Health says the City of Salmon Arm, B.C., has stopped using water from Shuswap Lake after a spill of thousands of litres of run-off water containing glue and fuel products.

The health authority said the spill occurred Tuesday near the shoreline of Canoe Forest Products and that the city is using an alternate water source.

The Environment Ministry was assessing water quality Wednesday.

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Interior Health said that until risks are assessed, the public should avoid recreational activities such as fishing from 300 metres off the log booms in the southern arm of the lake.

Residents who have private water sources drawing from that part of the lake are also advised not to use the water.

Canoe Forest Products confirmed that a discharge of potentially contaminated water occurred at the company's plywood plant in Canoe, B.C., though the company said Wednesday the spill does not amount to thousands of litres, as reported by the health authority.

"The initial problem was traced back to a plumbing leak in the mill," operations manager Marcello Angelozzi said. "It has since been repaired. The area of discharge has been contained and will be remediated as necessary."

He said officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Conservation Officer Service were on site Tuesday and that Canoe is working with them and the health authority to assess the risks and determine next steps.

Angelozzi said there was evidence of a water leak on March 7, with water accumulating in a pit where glue used in making plywood sheets is collected.

"While the leak was being investigated, the increased volume of water was pumped out of the glue pit to collection vats outside. It appears some of the water may have escaped and possibly entered the Shuswap Lake shoreline."

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The City of Salmon Arm website said it takes 85 per cent of its water supply from the lake, and the rest from East Canoe Creek.

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