08/29/2013 16:55 EDT | Updated 10/29/2013 05:12 EDT

Mine spill response upsets Similkameen locals

Some residents of the Similkameen region of B.C. are questioning why it took days for a mining company to inform locals that thousands of litres of tailings from a coal mine had spilled into the Tulameen River.

On Saturday, 24,000 litres of waste from the Coalmont Energy Corporation's mine poured into southern Interior river after an equipment malfunction.

Bob Sterne said he found out about the spill from neighbours who saw the river turn black on Sunday. Stearn said he was shocked it took Coalmont Energy three days to put out a news release.

"The mine is only five kilometres as the crow flies from town," he said. "They could have literally had a truck with a bull horn in the back of the truck before the water reached Coalmont."

Coalmont Energy says there was only carbon and earth in the spill water and that company representatives will be meeting with residents on Friday to address their concerns.

But Sterne says the response is too little, too late.

"You never know, of course, what's in the spill, so what else is in the water? And that's the thing we don't know."

Results from water testing are expected next week, but the Interior Health Authority has already said drinking water was not affected by the spill.