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The Snare Falls Hydro Unit was removed from service on Dec. 10, according to a news release issued by the Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC) Friday.

Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC) took the Snare Falls hydro unit offline due to a possible oil spill spotted on Thursday.
NNSL file photo

The release states that a “potential spill” was spotted in the water near Snare Falls as staff spotted an oil sheen during testing of the unit.

A report was called into the NWT Oil Spill Line on the same day.

“A diesel unit at the Jackfish Generating Plant will provide backup power while Snare Falls is offline, if required,” states the release.

Noel Voykin, president and CEO at NTPC, provided a statement saying that the corporation is prioritizing environmental safety and contending with maturing equipment as it attempts to bring the unit back online.

“NTPC took a proactive approach to protecting the environment when it began work at Snare Falls,” Voykin stated. “We expect to face ongoing challenges with maintenance of aging hydro infrastructure until our hydro fleet can be refurbished.

“We will work as quickly and safely as possible to return Snare Falls to service.”

Higher volume of oil

Friday’s release states that NTPC became aware that the Snare Falls unit was consuming a higher volume of oil than normal last week.

At the time, there was no evidence that the oil was being released to the environment.

As a precautionary measure, booms were put in place several weeks ago when maintenance work began to ensure that any leaks are contained.

The cause of the spill is still under investigation.

Last May, the Snare Falls unit was shut down for about three weeks in May 2020 as the result of a similar situation.

NTPC says there could be the need for additional staff or contractors from outside the NWT, in which case Protect NWT will be involved to ensure public health directives and protocols due to Covid-19 are in place.

“The timetable for completion of the investigation and maintenance work at Snare Falls are unknown,” states the release.

The costs are also unknown.

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Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. A through and through "County boy" from Prince Edward County, Ont., Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin...

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