Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut December 12, 2016 - 8:30 am

Fuel spill shuts down Nunavut school

Rachel Arngnammaktiq Elementary School in Baker Lake closed to Jan. 5

STEVE DUCHARME
Baker Lake's Rachel Arngnammaktiq Elementary School will be close until the new year because of an internal fuel spill. (FILE PHOTO)
Baker Lake's Rachel Arngnammaktiq Elementary School will be close until the new year because of an internal fuel spill. (FILE PHOTO)

A fuel spill inside a Baker Lake elementary school will keep the facility shut down into the new year, the Government of Nunavut says.

The Rachel Arngnammaktiq Elementary School closed down Dec. 5 after reporting a fuel leakage inside a mechanical room.

The school is not expected to re-open until Jan. 5, Kris Mullaly, a spokesperson for Nunavut’s Department of Community and Government Services, said Dec. 9.

Until Christmas break, students will attend classes at Baker Lake’s community hall, which has been modified into a “classroom without walls” for the 252 displaced kindergarten to Grade 5 students, Bill Cooper, the executive director of Kivalliq school operations, said from Rankin Inlet.

A contingency plan that was already prepared for such a situation took less than half a day to implement, with help from the Hamlet of Baker Lake and the local high school, he said.

“Its inconvenient, to be honest, but we’ve taken the steps to mitigate the loss of time,” Cooper said, adding the curriculum has “buffer days” within the school year to account for any disruption in classes.

Students will only have to spend five days at the community hall before Christmas break starts on Dec. 15.

A possible mechanical failure caused roughly 150 to 200 litres of fuel to leak out of an interior oil tank in the school’s mechanical room, covering about 25 square metres of floor space inside that room and the adjacent storage closet.

School staff caught the leak “very quickly,” said Mullaly, at about 10:30 a.m., Dec. 5, and notified the CGS immediately for clean-up help.

Nunavut’s environment department and Qikiqtaaluk Environmental, a contractor, will oversee the cleanup and investigation of the leak.

Baker Lake’s Christmas Concert will continue as planned, Cooper said, as it will be taking place at the community’s high school.

The community’s Jonah Amitnaaq secondary school was closed for more than a month in 2014 due to a similar fuel leak.

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