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Fuel plans sheer folly: hunter

Jillian Dickens
Northern News Services

Baker Lake (Dec 21/05) - Community and Government Services has announced plans to completely re-evaluate the territory's fuel-standards, and at least one hunter says that's nothing but a waste of time and money.

Kivalliq hunters and snowmobile owners were among those affected by fouled spark plugs last winter when the gas that showed up in Nunavut tanks wasn't suited for use in extreme cold.

"My two-cent thought is there was nothing wrong with the gas until they started fiddling around with it," said Elijah Amarook, Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers association acting secretary and manager.

He is concerned the government's plan is just more of the same needless, yet expensive, tinkering.

Community and Government Services Minister Levinia Brown tabled a report during the latest legislative assembly session outlining what caused the spark plug problems.

The independent investigation revealed Nunavut's high-octane specification produced increased levels of aromatics, like naphthalene and phenanthrene, contributing to spark plug fouling in extreme cold.

The report went on to state that in 2003, supplier Shell's elimination of the additive MMT also contributed to the problem.

The report called on the government to reassess the need for high-octane fuel and to explore joint-venture research initiatives with partners, like the Alberta Research Council, refiners and snowmobile manufactures, to determine the ideal fuel-specification needs for Nunavut.

Brown says her department plans to carry out these recommendations.

Last winter was the second time the gas supply caused mechanical failure in snowmachines. The initial problems in 2001 prompted the Petroleum Products Division - an arm of CGS - to revamp its approach to fuel standards.

For Amarook, the solution appears much simpler than Brown's department is making it out to be. He points to the fact before 2001 there were never any problems.

"It was good from Day 1, until about four years ago," said Amarook.

"Wouldn't it be easier to go back to the old way of things? It would be cheaper, too, rather than spending thousands on research and committees."

The recent report also recommends a complaints protocol be established and the Petroleum Products Division be reviewed for efficiency and effectiveness.