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Elders evacuated after fuel spill

Tara Kearsey
Northern News Services

Aklavik (May 26/03) - Fifteen elders have returned home after a fuel spill forced them to evacuate May 18.

About 400 gallons of fuel spilled from three tanks outside the Joe Greenland Centre, a seniors home in Aklavik.

Tim Devine of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development (RWED) said one of the tank valves broke, spilling the fuel out onto the soil.

The elderly residents were immediately evacuated to protect them from the fumes. Most stayed with family members and friends as a four-person crew and a pump-out truck were immediately called in to clean up the contaminated soil.

"The people who have been working on it to clean it up pretty much have it done at this point," said Devine, noting an environmental health officer was examining the site on May 21.

Elders were allowed to move back into their homes May 22. Devine said there is also some "residual oil of minute quantities" in the Mackenzie River near Aklavik, but it originated from another source.

Strangely, Devine said, RWED officials cannot find the source of this spill.

However, he explained, small quantities of oil from various sources often leak in bodies of water in the spring time.

"As spring runoff happens you get a slow leaking of minute quantities of this oil," he said, assuring "it's nothing serious."

An investigation into the fuel spill at the Joe Greenland Centre is still under investigation.