Defective safety valve caused fuel spill at Nunavut mine, company says


Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. says an April 8 fuel spill at its Meliadine mine site in Nunavut was likely caused by a defective safety valve on a storage tank, coupled with insufficient training.

Those were the company’s preliminary findings from an investigation into the leak, which spilled an estimated 8,000 gallons of fuel onto the mine site, located about 15 miles west of Rankin Inlet.

In an April 14 release, Agnico Eagle said the preliminary investigation also suggested “inadequate operating procedures” played a part in the spill.

“Agnico Eagle has begun implementing corrective measures,” the release said, although it didn’t specify what those measures were.

Agnico Eagle, which also operates the Meadowbank gold mine northwest of Baker Lake, said the leak originated from a hose on one of the 26,000-gallon diesel storage tanks on its property.

The leak was discovered April 8, stopped, and the spilled fuel was contained to a small area. Agnico Eagle said the spill has not reached any fresh water source.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada confirmed that on April 13. As the regulatory authority in Nunavut, INAC sent officials to inspect and monitor the spill site April 9 and April 10.

“Current information indicates that no contaminated material entered any surrounding bodies of water,” an INAC spokesperson said in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

“The inspection confirmed that mitigation measures had been implemented appropriately.”

INAC will continue to monitor the remediation process, the spokesperson said.

As part of clean-up efforts, Agnico Eagle crews began to excavate the spill area last week, though heavy winds and snow halted those efforts mid-week as schools, government offices and businesses shut down in the region April 11 and resumed April 13.

The mining company said the clean-up should be completed this week.