A red ticket on the window marks the vehicles that ICBC has written off because of acid exposure. Those vehicles line the side of the Trail ICBC office located on Highway Drive in Glenmerry. (Sheri Regnier photo)

ICBC looks to sue as 400 vehicles written off from B.C. acid spills

Auto insurer looks to determine who’s at fault after acid was leaked from Teck smelter in Trail

With at least 400 cars junked because of sulphuric acid spills in the West Kootenay, ICBC says it’s gearing up for a lawsuit.

Related story here: Claims skyrocket after acid spill

Related story here: Cars junked after acid spill

Acid has leaked from trucks leaving Teck’s smelter on three different occasions since April in the city of Trail, prompting more than 3,500 vehicle claims to ICBC.

“This work has already begun,” spokesperson Lindsey Wilkins said. “ICBC is in the process of determining who is at fault and will sue those parties in due course.

“These two spills have led to some of the largest claims losses we have ever experienced in terms of volume and cost from just two events.”

Hundreds of vehicles, including a new fire truck worth approximately $800,000, were damaged or destroyed by the first two acid spills.

Many residents are reporting a claim as a precautionary measure, however, and there is a growing trend of vehicles that have not been exposed to acid.

“We’ve inspected approximately 1,700 vehicles so far and have deemed over 1,300 with no evidence of exposure or damage from the acid spills,” Wilkins said. “This number continues to increase on a daily basis.”

Teck said earlier this month just under 300 litres of sulphuric acid leaked in separate spills on April 10 and May 23. The first spill left a 16-kilometre trail from the plant, through town, and out again.

No one was hurt, and the acid was neutralized and not believed to have seeped into area waterways.

The company that moves the acid through the city, International Raw Materials, had said it will halt all shipping until an engineering investigation wraps up.

– with files from The Canadian Press

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Vehicles that have not been exposed to acid receive written confirmation from ICBC.

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