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Bulk fuel plant finds new home
Plant moves off Wrigley turnoff after more than 40 years

April Hudson
Northern News Services
Thursday, February 11, 2016

After more than 40 years on the island, Fort Simpson's bulk fuel plant has finished moving just off the Wrigley turnoff.

NNSL photo/graphic

Fort Simpson's bulk fuel plant has moved from the island to the Wrigley turnoff. - April Hudson/NNSL photo

The plant provides gas and diesel fuel deliveries to the area and also supplies the gas station at the Northern Store.

Plant operator Owen Rowe said he secured the new location after about five years of searching for a new site. The old site on the island was leased by Imperial Oil.

The move began in earnest toward the end of January. On Jan. 26, plant workers handed the keys for the old site over to Imperial Oil and flushed the tanks. Two days later, they put plywood up on the windows and left for the new site.

With a fuel capacity of 2,000,000 litres, the new location is as well-equipped as the old one - if not more so, said plant operator Owen Rowe.

"It's as good as anything in the world, as safe as can be," said Rowe, who has operated the plant for the past eight years. He added the new plant goes above and beyond when it comes to safety, with lined berms a step up from the clay berms at the old site. The berms, which are artificial banks, are lined with a polythene liner 60 millimetres thick, Rowe said, to ensure any potential leak would be contained in the berm.

"Ours is the next generation, as you would call it, in environmental safety awareness," he said.

"I don't need any headaches - I was born and raised in the North and the last thing I need to be is part of a cleanup."

Other differences between the old and new sites include newer and faster pumps, as well as new bottom-loading racks so Rowe's employees don't need to climb a 10-foot loading rack, which they had to do in all weather conditions at the old site.

"The guys don't have to leave the ground. It makes it a lot nicer," Rowe said.

"(Loading from above) is just a necessary evil when you don't have anything else."

The bulk plant has four staff members in total, including operator Stella Nadia, two drivers and an office manager.

The move to the new location came out of necessity, Rowe said, as part of a decision from Imperial Oil to close out some of its tank farms. Imperial Oil still holds the lease to the old site.

As a branded reseller flying Esso's colours, Rowe said his staff runs the plant under Midnight Petroleum, a subsidiary of Rowe's Construction with branches in Hay River and Yellowknife.

"(Esso) guarantees us product. In the past eight years I've been on, there's been twice that other places all across the country, not just in the NWT, have had problems with supply - but not once have we, so it's kind of nice being with a bigger market," he said.

"The new plant should be good for another 40 years."

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