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Fuel Spills in NWT

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Fuel Spills in Northern Yukon

Yukon Petroleum Spills

What is happening?

  • There have been relatively few spills of petroleum (e.g. diesel fuel, gasoline, aviation fuel or hydraulic oil) in the northern Yukon and, in many years, there have been no reported spills. The largest spill occurred in 1972 at the Cranswick wellsite near the Snake River and was estimated to include 300,000 litres of diesel fuel.
  • The trend over the last 41 years shows an increase in the number of spills reported each year. In the 1970s an average of 1 spill per year was reported while in the last decade about 5 spills per year have been reported. This may reflect better scrutiny and reporting of spills (small or large) rather than a real increase in the number of spills.
  • Most spills have occurred inland although there are records of 6 spills that have occurred along the Beaufort Sea coast of the Yukon and at Pauline Cove on Herschel Island.

Why is it happening?

  • Large amounts of petroleum products are transported for use by local residents as well as industry. Spills often occur during transport or during storage as a result of accidents, negligence (poor maintenance of tanks or supply lines) or operator error (overfilling storage tanks).

Why is it important?

  • Spills of petroleum products can have a great impact on both marine and fresh water environments while spills on land can also cause problems when they seep into groundwater or join waterways through runnoff.

Technical Notes

  • Spill records were obtained from Environment Canada as well as the Yukon Goverment who took over responsibility for monitoring spills in 2003.
  • The volume of some spills is reported as "unknown" and indicates that there was some difficulty in estimating the size of the spill.

Text revised: March 17, 2014     Data added: July 29, 2013