A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times

2 years after huge highway acid spill, Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

AM Ford owner Dan Ashman just wants fair compensation for vehicles affected by acid spills that occurred on the highway through Trail in April and May of 2018.

Ashman says that ICBC is using a technicality to avoid paying claims on 13 vehicles traded into AM Ford before consequences of the April 10 and May 23, 2018 acid spills were realized in Trail.

The effects of the spill on vehicles did not come to light until a July 5 Trail Times article revealed that 19 claims were filed with ICBC due to vehicles driving through the caustic liquid.

ICBC has since rejected the dealerships claims totalling about $140,000, and, as a result, Ashman has been forced to use a clause in the sales contract to shift that burden to his customers by taking legal action.

In turn, he expects his customers to sue ICBC.

“If you don’t declare damage over $2,000 when you trade your vehicle in you’re in breach of your contract,” Ashman told the Trail Times.

Related read: Cars being junked after acid spill on Trail highway

In this rare case, both the customer and dealer had no way of knowing that any damage had occurred, and although both parties were insured at the time of the incident, neither can make claims to ICBC.

ICBC refused to cover AM Ford under their compulsory public liability insurance, or the original owners of the vehicles because they no longer owned the vehicles.

Suing your own customers is not good for business, especially in a small community, and the stress it has caused over more than two years has taken its toll on both Ashman and his customers.

“I want this thing to go away,” said Ashman. “I shouldn’t be put in a position where I have to sue my customers, who are also ICBC customers. It’s a heavy-handed, untoward approach by ICBC.”

Related read: Teck Trail suspends trucking company after second spill

Westcan Bulk Transport was transporting sulphuric acid from Teck Trail operations to the IRM Transload Station in Waneta when the spills occurred. The first extended 16 kilometres from the plant, through town, and out to the reload station. The May 23 spill stretched approximately five km along Highway 3B from the smelter to Shavers Bench.

At the time of the first spill, Westcan sent out a statement saying; “Anyone who was travelling in the vicinity at the time of the release and is concerned that their vehicle may have come in contact with the product should run their vehicle through an automatic car wash as a precaution to safely dilute and remove any residue.”

According to ICBC, about 4,800 claims related to the acid spills were filed, and 480 or 10 per cent of those vehicles were found to be exposed to the acid and deemed total losses.

Due to the overwhelming number of claims, ICBC facilities could not respond to inspect the AM Ford’s vehicles in a timely manner, so Ashman had an independent insurer inspect them.

ICBC informed Ashman, that “(It) has never tested any of your vehicles so we have no evidence that any of your vehicles were affected by acid spills.

“There was no contractual relationship in place between your dealership and ICBC when the alleged damage occurred. Accordingly, there is no ICBC Insurance policy to cover your potential losses,” wrote Brenda Adlem, senior legal counsel for ICBC, in a June 13, 2019 letter provided by Ashman.

According to ICBC, the insurer “retained a technical expert to help us review individual claims. As the spills were caused by other parties, ICBC has also taken legal action against the parties involved in an effort to recoup losses on behalf of our ratepayers.”

In April 2019, ICBC filed a notice of civil claim against corporate defendants Teck, IRM, and Westcan Bulk Transport, in addition to two commercial truck drivers, municipal defendants the City of Trail and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Ministry of Environment as Crown defendants.

ICBC’s claim is before the court so it cannot discuss further details.

For Ashman, after more than 35 years of paying public insurance to ICBC, he believes a more practical resolution than expensive litigation be considered.

“They are trying to hang their hat on a technicality and a publicly owned insurance company that’s owned by the citizens of B.C. should not be trying to do that.”



sports@trailtimes.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City of TrailICBCkootenay

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

Just Posted

The District of Stewart has adopted a strategic plan for 2020/21 with six focus areas. (District of Stewart/Facebook)
Stewart adopts 2020 strategic plan

Economy, community areas of focus

Kendra Willems, seen here Nov. 5, created a Facebook page to help facilitate social supports such as clothing donations in an informal manner that supplements existing supports and charities. (Jake Wray/Terrace Standard)
Skeena Voices | ‘We could all use that kind of goodness’

Kendra Willems, new to Terrace, founds charitable Facebook page

Firefighters work to cool a semi truck engine that caught fire at the corner of Eby St. and Hwy 16 around 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 26
Semi truck engine catches fire in Terrace

Hwy 16 briefly closed between Sande Overpass and Eby St.

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross at his swearing in on Thursday (Nov. 26), with his wife, Tracey, left, mother, Frieda, and grandson, Parker. (Ellis Ross photo)
Ellis Ross sworn in as Skeena MLA

Ceremonies happening virtually rather than all in-person in Victoria

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

More than 60 cm of snow has fallen at Ulkatcho First Nation near Anahim Lake in the Chilcotin since a snowfall warning went into effect Thursday, Nov. 26. (Graham West photo)
VIDEO: More than 60 cm of snowfall in Chilcotin since Thursday, Nov. 26

Graham West of Ulkatcho First Nation captures the scene on video

Most Read