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Sewage truck removed from property of Slocan Valley resident

A call for a septic tank cleaning job has led to a civil fight between the company and Slocan Valley senior. — John Boivin, The Nelson Daily

The Nelson Daily is reporting on Sunday afternoon, March 26, the septic truck was removed from Ms. Ryder's property.

Sinking sewage truck gives Slocan Valley senior major headache

A Slocan Park senior says she doesn’t know where to turn after getting into a bizarre argument with a septic tank cleaning company that won’t remove a stuck sewage truck from her yard.

Deb Ryder says the driver of the sewage truck- which is stuck up to its axles in mud in her back yard- is refusing to move the vehicle until she agrees to cover the cost.

“He started saying to me, ‘well, you’ve got to pay for it, you have to phone this person, you have to get me out of here’,” she says.

Ryder, who owns a seven-acre farm tucked behind the village of Slocan Park, hired A-Ace Septic to clean out her septic field last Wednesday.

The basement of her home has water in it, and high spring runoff this year is plaguing her property. Her insurance company directed her to get the tank cleaned out to avoid contamination.

A-Ace Septic is the first listing under Septic Tank Cleaning in the local phone book, but is an answering machine directing callers to individual drivers. Ryder contacted a driver on the list.

Ryder says when the truck arrived she and a neighbour told the driver to keep his truck further back from the septic tank and use hosing. She says the driver told her he didn’t have enough hose to reach the tank, tested the ground by walking on it, and backed up closer to be able to reach. While the truck seemed fine at first, it quickly sank into the muck after it loaded up with sewage from Ryder’s tank.

Two neighbours with backhoes couldn’t budge the vehicle. It’s been sitting there ever since.

Ryder says the truck driver has returned to the house, demanding she pay for removing the vehicle.

“He was demanding I get a big truck and haul him out, that he was going to have to hire a second septic truck to off-load him, and I should pay for it,” Ryder says. “And I said no, I can’t do that, I’m a low-income senior and this was never the deal.

“So I phoned my insurance company, they said absolutely not, it’s their truck, their responsibility. They’re a professional driver, they should know the capabilities of their truck.”

Ryder says she’s ready to pay driver the $440 he initially charged to clean out the tank, but has been told by the  insurance company not to pay anything until the company removes the vehicle from the property.

“They all say… he should have known what his truck weighed, what it should have weighed with fluid on it. How would I know? I’m not a truck driver.”

A company official with A-Ace Septic said he didn’t know when the vehicle would be removed from Ryder’s backyard, as it may soon be a matter before the courts. They also said the driver was not connected to A-Ace Septic, but was a third party who leased the truck through a numbered company.

The official denied the truck operator demanded that Ryder pay for the vehicle’s removal. He said the operator only wanted to ensure Ryder would pay for the extra landfill cost of dumping the excess surface water the truck collected during the cleaning. He wouldn’t give an estimate to the cost.

Ryder says she spent most of Friday on the phone speaking to ICBC, the department of Health, the regional district and the RCMP about the problem. They all say it’s a civil matter.

Ryder thinks there soon could be another problem as the vehicle is beginning to list to one side, and she says if the truck tips over or spills, it could be catastrophic.

“It’s continuing to sink. It’s wet. I’m in low ground, the water is moving. If for some reason it topples or leaks, there’s going to be hundreds of thousands of dollars of remediation to be done. Not only here, but my neighbours. I told ICBC that, I wanted to make sure I was covered, I was not going to be responsible if it should happen.”

A spokesperson for the Regional District of the Central Kootenay says they’re not concerned.

“The septic truck doesn’t appear to be posing any risk whatsoever,” says Anitra Winje. “It’s just a couple of tires stuck in the mud. It will be up to the septic company to dislodge the truck and get it out of there.

“As far as we know there’s no problem there.”

But Ryder’s worried the sinking truck could be affecting her septic tank as well, as the weight of it deforms the ground close by. She’s put a claim in to ICBC to cover the property damage to her yard.

In the meantime the dispute is also affecting Ryder’s attempts to dry out and clean up her basement. She says the insurance company can’t bring in a Seacan to store her furniture from the basement because it would block eventual efforts to remove the septic truck.

Ryder says it’s crazy-making, and she’s warning other people who need to clean out their septic tanks this time of year to be wary.

“Be very careful this time of year . . .. If you’re not careful you’ll end up stuck in a problem like mine,” she says.