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Grise Fiord faces jet fuel shortage

Casey Lessard
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 11, 2012

Grise Fiord's airport will only see scheduled flights and medevacs until July 30 as a precaution to ensure the community does not run out of fuel before the sealift resupply.

The situation appeared urgent June 7 when Nunavut Airports incorrectly reported that the community's fuel supply had run out.

An updated notice to airmen (NOTAM) on the Navigation Canada website lowered the level of concern, but said Jet A-1 fuel was available only for medevacs and scheduled flights from June 5 at 4:50 p.m. until approximately July 30 at 6 p.m.

Grise Fiord currently has 24,000 litres of Jet A-1 fuel. Petroleum Products Division director Grant Scott does not consider this to be an emergency situation, according to a Community and Government Services communications officer.

Speaking in the legislature June 7, Community and Government Services Minister Lorne Kusugak confirmed the government was aware of the problem.

The hamlet's runway is too small to accommodate anything larger than a Twin Otter, which will be used for the resupply, Kusugak confirmed.

The situation is not extraordinary for Kenn Borek Air operations manager Brian Crocker. The scheduled Thursday flight arrived late in the wake of the NOTAM, but otherwise it's business as usual. The only problem may be that charters will not be able to run while the NOTAM is in effect, as planes typically need to refuel in Grise Fiord, Crocker confirmed.

Elliott expressed concern that Grise Fiord's position at the end of the supply chain leaves the hamlet and its people vulnerable to issues of resupplying fuel and goods.

"I think annually we see some communities running out of fuel," he said, noting the community is supposed to have a buffer. "My question would be: why in this case was that not happening? Was there an increase of flights going into Grise Fiord? As far I know, there has been no overburden of planes going in and out of the community."

Kusugak said his department is looking into the problem there and in the other communities that have experienced fuel supply issues this year.

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