Rankin Inlet glycol spill left no residual impact, QEC concludes

Propylene glycol leak was discovered at the community’s district heating system in November 2019

Qulliq Energy Corp. fuel tanks sit by the shore in Rankin Inlet. The QEC says it has wrapped up an investigation into a 2019 glycol spill in Rankin Inlet, concluding that the spill left no residual impacts on the surrounding area. (File photo)

By Sarah Rogers

The Qulliq Energy Corp. says it’s wrapped up an investigation into a 2019 glycol spill in Rankin Inlet, concluding that the spill left no residual impacts on the surrounding area.

A propylene glycol leak was discovered at Rankin Inlet’s district heating system early on Nov. 3, 2019.

Somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 litres of a propylene glycol and water mixture leaked along Kivalliq Street from a section of pipeline connected to the Kivalliq Health Centre.

The QEC says it suspects that the pipeline was damaged by heavy equipment working nearby, though the investigation was unable to confirm that.

Propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid substance that’s frequently used an antifreeze agent. It’s used in district heating because of its ability to transfer heat.

Frozen ground conditions prevented the investigation from taking place until summer 2020, the QEC said.

“Propylene glycol was below laboratory detection limits in soil, groundwater and surface water where sampling took place,” the QEC said in an Oct. 17 news release.

“Based on the results of the environmental investigation, residual propylene glycol impacts do not appear to be present and no remedial action was recommended by the contractor.”

The QEC said the substance is “relatively non-toxic to humans and wildlife.”

The QEC has handed over the results of its investigation to the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Environment for review.

The file remains open until the QEC has assessed the pipeline and determined whether to decommission or repair that section of the community’s district heating system.

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