Dickey Lake chemical spill under investigation

Daily Inter Lake | September 9, 2020 1:00 AM


Daily Inter Lake

An investigation into a chemical spill that occurred at a Dickey Lake campground last week is currently underway, according to Kootenai National Forest officials.

Bryan Donner, district ranger for the Fortine Ranger District, said he and others were notified of the spill on Aug. 25 around 3:30 p.m. Kootenai National Forest, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Lincoln County and other entities are looking into exactly what was released and how much.

Donner did not provide the name of any suspected chemicals or pollutants, as that information is under investigation, but said it was one that would typically be used for “paving or dust abatement activities.”

The spill occurred near the boat launch and public beach on Dickey Lake, which is located about 15 miles west of Whitefish near Trego in Lincoln County.

Upon responding to the scene, Donner said there “was obviously something in the water.” He said the component was coating boats in the area. Fire department personnel helped hose off watercraft as they were pulled from the lake.

Donner said portions of the water near the boat launch had changed color, there was an odor, a “slight feel” to the water and the component appeared to be water-dispersible.

“We couldn’t collect globules or scoop it off the top or anything like that,” Donner said. The beach and boat launch were temporarily shut down after the spill and a notice was posted at the site and nearby campgrounds.

However, the area reopened for public use the next day by recommendation of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

According to Donner, when officials returned the next morning to observe the site, there was no indication of the chemical and at that time, it was determined there was no health risk.

“We were observing, trying to determine how much of the pollutant was still there, but we couldn’t come up with any evidence it was still present. There was no smell, no feel, no discoloration,” Donner said.

Because agencies determined there was no health risk at the time, there was no notification of the incident posted to a website, social media or elsewhere.

“We were confident, based on the info we were working with that there were no risks associated with reopening it,” Donner said.

The investigation launched the day the spill occurred and will continue for what is currently an undetermined amount of time.