This foam sprayed along West Beach tracks in White Rock Friday afternoon raised the concerns of at least one beach visitor. (Contributed photo)

Fire-retardant ‘snow’ on White Rock’s West Beach raises concern

Spraying ‘no threat, part of ongoing maintenance’: BNSF

Foam sprayed along West Beach tracks in White Rock Friday afternoon raised concerns of at least one beach visitor, who says he was told it was of no concern, “so long as no one’s playing in it.”

Martin Friesen said he received the assurance after approaching operators of a rail-truck that was marked with the words “fire retardant.”

“It’s about 2½ cabooses long,” Friesen said, describing the spray system.

“It pulls up and starts spraying this stuff around.”

Friesen, a White Rock resident, said he was told the foam – which he said was described as “an irritant, not a toxin” – was to keep fires down “because they were doing some grinding on the track.”

BNSF officials told Peace Arch News the spraying poses no threat.

“We comply with all the requirements. There’s no threat to the public or the environment or to animals or anything,” spokesman Gus Melonas said Friday, describing the foam as a “primarily water substance.”

“It’s used for the rail grinder that’s been in British Columbia this week profiling the rail. So they grind the rail and it just contours the profile to give it a safer, longer rail life,” Melonas said.

“There’s some overflow from the tank of the rail car that’s used for this operation, but there’s no environmental, no public threat, so it’s all safe.”

Friesen, who said the foam “looks like a pile of snow,” said he was concerned there were no barriers or cautionary signage in place to keep people away from it.

At least 50 children were playing nearby at the time; he saw one young girl put her hand in it.

“Really, is this a safe practice to be doing on a busy day when there’s kids around?”

Melonas said public notice is issued if there is to be an impact, “but in this case, it’s just routine, something we’ve done for a very, very, very long time.”

City of White Rock spokesperson Ashley Gregerson said the city was not advised that spraying would be taking place, and that engineering staff did go down to West Beach to investigate after learning of the concern through PAN.

“It’s all on the BNSF land,” she said. “From what I understand is, they’re down there right now taking care of it.”

Melonas described the work as “part of our ongoing engineering maintenance process.”

Just Posted

Stabbing at Surrey banquet hall sends man to hospital

RCMP says victim has ‘non-life threatening’ injuries, incident still under investigation

55-year-old man taken to hospital after fire at Surrey RV park

Firefighters find man suffering from smoke inhalation, burns to face and hands: battalion chief

South Surrey parking ticket perplexes, frustrates

Theresa Delaney predicts more people will be wrongly ticketed

OUR VIEW: Let’s find Surrey pellet-gun punks

Those who do have information – if they are also possessed of a conscience – must contact police

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Pedestrian in serious condition after hit by car downtown Abbotsford

A youth was also hit, suffered minor injuries, police say

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

The can’t decide the pipeline’s fate until a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

Most Read