Cargo and fuel resupply to Sachs Harbour begins by plane


Cargo and fuel are finally on the way to Sachs Harbour via airplane after the resupply barge that usually restocks the hamlet with essential items for the year was cancelled in mid-October.

Two airlines have been contracted to get the job done in place of the barge: Buffalo Airways began taking in cargo on Wednesday, while Summit Air will be flying in petroleum products starting Friday.

Three staff from the GNWT’s Marine Transportation Service (MTS), which runs the barges, are heading to Paulatuk to oversee the shipments Buffalo will be transporting from there to Sachs Harbour.

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Buffalo will be making two trips a day carrying up to 18,000 pounds of cargo per flight between the two communities, and could finish its resupply job by November 15 if the weather is good.

The first four Buffalo flights were scheduled to transport cargo from warm storage, such as grocery items.

“Some cargo that is either too large for the aircraft or not needed urgently will be stored in Paulatuk until it can be transported by tug and barge next summer,” said the territorial government in a news release.

The GNWT also reiterated there is enough fuel on hand to meet the community’s needs until Summit’s resupply contract is completed in December.

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In the legislature on Wednesday, infrastructure minister Diane Archie said the factors impacting the MTS’s barges this summer were “complex and interconnected.”

“In addition to the regular risks … MTS and the partners have faced [labour] shortages, supply chain delays, delays caused by floods both in Inuvik and in Hay River, and delays for the placement of our buoys. Another unexpected occurrence happened when our fuel hoses were vandalized resulting in a six- to seven-day delay for our shipping season,” she said.

Sachs Harbour isn’t the only community that faced delays this fall. Some fuel destined for Inuvik only made it to Tuktoyaktuk, and will now be delivered by truck. Another shipment to a commercial customer, the Sabina Gold and Silver Corp’s mine in Nunavut, also had to be cancelled and will be rescheduled for next year.

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