Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut July 15, 2016 - 8:10 am

Nunavut boater ruptures tanker’s fuel line

500 litres of fuel estimated to have leaked into Hudson Bay at Rankin Inlet

A spill from this tanker near Rankin Inlet has now been contained with any fuel left in the water expected to evaporate. (PHOTO BY NOEL KALUDJAK)
A spill from this tanker near Rankin Inlet has now been contained with any fuel left in the water expected to evaporate. (PHOTO BY NOEL KALUDJAK)

Crews in Rankin Inlet have cleaned up the vast majority of fuel spilled into Hudson Bay July 13 after a boat hit a fuel line running from a tanker stationed by the Kivalliq community.

Newfoundland-based Coastal Shipping Ltd.’s M/V Sten Fjord was offloading gasoline at Rankin Inlet that evening when, at about 7 p.m., a small boat ran into the 2,400-foot floating fuel hose.

The company initially estimated that somewhere between 1,000 to 2,000 litres had spilled into Hudson Bay, but later revised that estimate to about 500 litres July 14.

As soon as the fuel line ruptured, the ship’s crew managed to shut off the flow and then deployed booms and absorbent pads to the area, said Nathaniel Hutchison, the acting director of Nunavut’s Petroleum Products Division in Rankin Inlet.

By about 1 a.m. July 14, the Canadian Coast Guard asked crews to let the remaining fuel dissipate on its own.

“We’d already got most of it,” Hutchison said, noting the remaining fuel flowed into the community’s Johnston Cove.

“We were fortunate it wasn’t diesel. Gasoline is a very light oil, and it should evaporate within a few days.”

Hutchison said the rubber fuel line was quickly repaired and the tanker was back pumping fuel by 3 a.m.

Rankin Inlet’s gas station stayed closed through the day July 14, but was expected to re-open by 4 p.m., he said.

The spill site in Hudson Bay falls under the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard, which, along with Transport Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada, will now investigate the accident and its potential impact.

“The shoreline is being monitored for gasoline and if pooling is observed it will be dispersed with water,” the Coast Guard said in a July 14 email to Nunatsiaq News.

So far, federal and territorial organizations involved in the clean up have said the spill does not pose any health risk to residents of Rankin Inlet.

“Anything that reaches the tidal water is a concern,” Hutchison said. “We’ve seen spills significantly larger than this. We consider this important, but not major.”

The spill raises some issues about community safety around tankers in summer months when residents are out in the water.

Hutchison said buoys are attached to rubber fuel lines so boaters know where to safely pass while tankers are offloading but after this latest incident, the company will revisit how it marks its equipment.

The Woodward Group of Companies, which oversees Coastal Shipping Ltd., did not respond to Nunatsiaq News’ request for an interview.

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