Nunavut Post

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Fuel spill into Hudson Bay near Rankin Inlet was never cleaned up


Key takeaways: 

  • The effects of the spill are not known.
  • Fuel from a storage tank within the school burst in 2020 and was never cleaned up. 

Thousands of liters of diesel leaked out of a storehouse tank in a Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, high school two years was never washed up, told Environment Canada.

In April 2020, a pump was left on overnight at Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik school during a manual shifting of fuel. The tank started to overflow, and a spill went unseen till the following day. Approximately 18,400 liters of fuel leaked down the drain in the room the storage tank is kept and into the sewer system.

After that, Daniel Smith, the prairie and northern area provincial director with Environment and Climate Change Canada’s environmental enforcement program, rushed toward the treatment plant and then straight out to the Arctic Ocean through Hudson Bay. In discussion with CBC this week, Smith said an outfall was approximately 500 meters offshore under the ice.

“The data we have is that it was not recoverable due to the complex and nearly impossible circumstances with the ice cover and the tides,” Smith said.

Also read: Nunavut community questions where money from mining firm has gone

Smith said an outfall was approximately 500 meters offshore under the ice

This week, the Nunavut government was hit with a $100,000 penalty under the amended section 2.1 of Canada’s storage tank rules.

It’s the first prosecution under this section, stated Smith. He said the $100,000 penalty is compulsory and the lowest fine under this section.

The reason for the fuel leak was said to be a human mistake. Smith said the effect on the environment is unknown.

“Diesel fuel is dangerous to the environment and fish,” he said. “We cannot confirm exactly what the impacts might have been, but we know that it was a powerful release, and it was not recoverable.”

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