MLA presses Nunavut government on waste oil management
“It’s a problem that we have to tackle and we will”
The last time Allan Rumbolt visited the dump in his home community of Sanikiluaq, he didn’t like what he saw.
The MLA for the Belcher Island community found piles of steel and plastic drums, many of them containing waste oil, strewn on a lot next to the dump.
For now, that’s how the hamlet’s waste oil is stored and Rumbolt produced photos of the containers to show his colleagues at the Legislative Assembly this week.
“Can the minister indicate what specific steps the Petroleum Products Division is taking to ensure that waste oils in the municipalities are stored and disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner?” Rumbolt asked Community and Government Services Minister Joe Savikataaq Oct. 19.
It turns out the hamlet is responsible for its own waste fuel, Savikataaq said.
“There are really only two ways of disposing of waste oil in Nunavut,” he said.
“You either ship it south or you burn it in a waste oil burner, which may be a furnace or burner. We work with the hamlets to try to mitigate the chances of this waste oil spilling.”
But Rumbolt argued that the Government of Nunavut has guidelines for the storage of waste fuel, requiring those containers are leak-proof—guidelines it should monitor and uphold.
“Municipalities depend on funding from our government,” Rumbolt said. “I think, indirectly, our government should be a little more responsible for their waste oil.”
CGS is responsible for cleaning up oil and fuel spills around the territory but Savikataaq admitted the GN doesn’t actually have stringent guidelines on the disposal of waste oil—though he said it should.
“It is a problem that is not specific to Sanikiluaq; it’s a problem all over in Nunavut,” Savikataaq said. “It’s a problem that we have to tackle and we will.”
The conversation continued at the legislature Oct. 20, when Rumbolt put the question to Johnny Mike, the minister responsible for the Qulliq Energy Corp.: how does the territory’s energy corporation deal with its waste?
In the QEC’s most recent corporate plan, the organization pledged to develop a waste oil reduction and recycling plan, Rumbolt noted.
“The Qulliq Energy Corp. tries to manage waste properly such as used oil or other substances because they are dangerous to the environment and the wildlife and birds,” Mike said in response.
Currently, the corporation spends about $250,000 a year to recycle and dispose of waste oil, he said.
To cut back on those costs, the corporation has launched a program to re-use waste oil from its power generators. The QEC has invested in new power generators that run on used oil, which it’s currently using to heat its warehouses in Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay.
Mike told the legislative assembly Oct. 20 that the QEC hopes to implement the same program in Igloolik, Clyde River, Pangnirtung and Sanikiluaq in 2017.