Fate of Salluit tank farm still uncertain

Local leaders don’t like Quebec’s plan for moving Salluit’s tank farm


The fate of Salluit’s tank farm is still up in the air because there’s no agreement over where it should be moved, or even if the move is needed to protect it against avalanches.

A year ago, high-level bureaucrats from Quebec City flew to Salluit, where they met with local and regional authorities and checked out possible new locations for the tank farm.

Norwegian avalanche specialists had warned Quebec’s public security department that the tank reservoirs owned by the Fédération des coopératives du Nouveau-Québec should be moved away from an avalanche-prone slope nearby.

This March 2001 meeting produced an action plan which, among other things, called for a study of where to move the tank farm and, at the same time, expand the cramped community, with construction beginning in 2003.

This plan also involved a major concession from the Quebec government — to pick up the $725,000 tab for a temporary steel fence above the tanks, strong enough to deflect an avalanche.

But a meeting held two weeks ago in Salluit to revisit the situation ended in uncertainty.

Representatives from the municipality of Salluit and Qaqqalik Landholding Corporation rejected a suggestion from Louis Morneau, provincial director of public security for Nunavik, to form a technical committee that would evaluate various options.

Local authorities have decided they don’t want to have a fence built above the slope — even as a short-term solution. Instead, they would like Quebec to come up with a plan and money to move the tank farm and to put in a road by the bay to a site favoured by the community.

They don’t like Quebec’s plan to move the tanks to an area that’s on bedrock close to the airport .

“It’s a practical decision and not too expensive,” Morneau said of Quebec’s plan.

Although his department’s main concern is how to protect public safety — and to not develop the community, Morneau said consultants will look into the feasibility of a road down the bay.

Meanwhile, the FCNQ wants to upgrade its tank farm as soon as possible so the growing community doesn’t have a serious lack of fuel in the near future. But the FCNQ can’t do that until there’s some decision made about where the tanks will go.

The FCNQ has suggested the Norwegian experts take a look at some new information to see whether there’s really a risk of avalanches at the tank farm’s current site.

Morneau said if it turns out it’s not necessary to move the tanks, “so much the better.”

That, at least, would resolve the pressing public safety problem facing the community.

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