Clyde River still searching for diesel after declaring state of emergency

Nunavut government considering what help it can provide blizzard-stricken hamlet, spokesperson says

Clyde River, seen in this 2016 file photo, has faced a series of blizzards at a time when the hamlet is low on diesel fuel and its snow-removal equipment is broken down. (File photo)

By David Lochead

After Clyde River declared a state of emergency because of snow-clogged roads and houses last Thursday, another blizzard hit the hamlet over the weekend, and the municipality’s last snow-clearing vehicle broke down, Mayor Alan Cormack said.

Over the past month, the combination of a series of blizzards and its snow-clearing vehicles breaking down has led to the hamlet not being able to remove snow from roads or houses fast enough.

Water delivery has taken up to five days instead of two, and sewage tanks have frozen over because they have not been cleaned in two weeks, Clyde River’s chief administrative officer Jerry Natanine told Nunatsiaq News.

The snow-clearing vehicles — two loaders and a bulldozer — are breaking down because they have been running on Jet A fuel, which has a higher sulphur content and harm the machines, Natanine said. The hamlet learned that the fuel was damaging the equipment when a technician examined the vehicles a couple weeks ago, he said.

The vehicles need diesel fuel but the community did not have any, Natanine said.

Fortunately, the hamlet was able to get 11 barrels of diesel fuel from a nearby Nunavut Parks site on Sunday.

Those barrels of diesel fuel will be used on the airport’s snow-removal machines, which includes a loader, a snow-plow grader and a snowblower, Cormack said. Once the airport’s snow is cleared, the machines will be used on the hamlet, he added.

Natanine said the hamlet had contacted the Government of Nunavut, before the state of emergency was declared, requesting diesel fuel for snow-clearing vehicles be flown in.

“If it happened to Ottawa, the whole army would be there by now,” Cormack said of Clyde River’s situation.

The Government of Nunavut’s Department of Community and Government Services received the hamlet’s declaration of a state of emergency on Feb. 11 and is reviewing what resources the government can provide to the hamlet, spokesperson Ronnel Guilaran said in a statement to Nunatsiaq News.

Cormack said the community is trying to be resilient, as everyone is helping each other by shovelling as much they can.

“We’re getting faster as days go by,” Cormack said.

Cormack said the hamlet thought its vehicles had been running on diesel fuel, but only found out they have been running on Jet A fuel when the technician tested the fuel of the snow-clearing vehicles.

Natanine also said he does not know why Clyde River has Jet A fuel, and it is the petroleum product division with the GN that makes that decision.

The hamlet’s two loaders and bulldozer will not be able to use the recently obtained diesel fuel immediately, as the Jet A fuel did too much damage to their cooling systems and mufflers, Cormack said.

Natanine said the hamlet has had the snow-clearing vehicles for a couple of years and continually had problems with them. Colder weather exacerbates those problems, which is probably why the vehicles broke down over the winter, he added.

Since the hamlet’s older snow-clearing vehicles were less environmentally friendly, they may have been able to better handle a heavy fuel like Jet A, Cormack said as to why the newer vehicles broke down but the previous ones did not.

A technician should be arriving in Clyde River Tuesday to help fix the vehicles, Natanine said.

This story has been updated to reflect the fact that Clyde River received barrels of fuel from a Nunavut Parks site, rather than from Parks Canada.

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Bob on

    Declare a state of emergency of Friday and government waits until Monday to read it! What part of emergency don’t they understand? Loosing faith in the too young government- seem like it’s all falling apart.

    • Posted by Forever Amazed on

      What do you expect? It was Friday in Iqaluit. Ever tried to reach a government office on Friday’s in Iqaluit?

  2. Posted by So where’s the diesel? on

    The question that needs to be asked is where did the diesel go and who is to be held accountable? This is a very serious and worrisome matter

  3. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    I don’t know what the issue is, Clyde River is not the first community to run out of diesel and won’t be tbd last.

    Heavy equipment run fine of jet fuel, burns a little hotter and is refined more than diesel but that’s it. There has to be more to this story which is not being reported. Has the preventative maintenance been done on vehicles and equipment prior to winter or run the beast til she breaks then ask for help come into play?

    All heavy vehicles like water, sewer and fuel trucks would be burning jet fuel as well, if the hamlet is pointing fingers everything in town would be breaking.

    • Posted by Nothing to see here ? on

      You don’t see any problem with running out of Diesel in… November? You know, just as the last fuel tanker sails away? That’s all just totally normal to you?

      • Posted by Northern Inuit on

        If you read the Nunavut News story on the other site, they report that Clyde River only receives Jet A Fuel, not Diesel Fuel.

        the old equipment they had ran fine on the Jet A Fuel, but newer equipment have had problems. now what could have done to identify issues? asking the manufacturer questions when purchasing the equipment that it would be running on Jet A Fuel and not Diesel? preventative maintenance or investigating when first issues started showing up? have they requested warranty help to fix the equipment?

        it’s like buying a race snowmobile that runs on 110 octane race gasoline then pointing fingers when you put in our 90 octane and asking why the motor just shit the bed.

    • Posted by Accountability on

      The fuel has been the same forever, but the new administration in town has not done any preventative maintenance or taken proactive measures for the community, so that they don’t end up in this situation. Since the new administration came it’s been problem after problem, community members have been complaining about this. These two are not victims of a couple of blizzards (hello winter in Baffin) but responsible for their decisions. Too much interest in power and high salaries, no interest in the common good for its people or knowledge on how to run a community for the best

  4. Posted by pissed off on

    Just a minute. What is the story with running out of DIESEL. I am no great technician in this field but last time i checked the diesel engines for the power supply, the furnaces and all diesel vehicles run on the same product.
    So there is no power in Town? all diesel pick ups are not running, no fuel for the furnaces ?

    Something does not add up. As far as Jet Fuel is concerned it is kerosene that the planes are using, Is it the same as Jet Fuel I don`t know.

    AS far as taking 3 months to repair heavy equipment this is deplorable. Same as taking 3 days to respond to a request from the Hamlet this is ridiculous.
    Heads should roll

  5. Posted by Phil Lange on

    Blogs with input from aircraft mechanics and diesel mechanics have a lot to say on this topic. Several mentioned the importance of preventative maintenance and other cautions when using Jet A fuel in place of diesel. Others advocate adding a wee bit of lube to the Jet A fuel, as in this example: “I am mixing two quarts of semi-synthetic 2-stroke oil for every 30 gallons of fuel. This is simply to keep the injectors lubed as required by the diesel fuel.” This post—i.e., adding synthetic 2-stroke oil—received approving comments. If there is a consensus here, it is that these well-maintained and carefully-watched motors ran OK on Jet A fuel with a synthetic lubricant added.

  6. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    another question that should be asked, does the new Equipment the Hamlet bought have a Diesel Exhaust Fluid System in place?

    all equipment with DEF have been having issues up here. most of them have been disabled by maintenance staff and removed from use. they are causing no end of issues in -25C and below which is what we face most of the winter. a lot of the new equipment are advised from the manufacturer that they are coming north and please remove the system before being sent up.

    the old equipment didn’t have DEF and ran fine, especially when having to burn Jet A Fuel.

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