The NWT Power Corporation has shut down the North Slave’s Snare Falls hydro plant over another suspected oil leak.
In a news release on Friday, the power corporation said staff had “observed an oil sheen in the water” while carrying out maintenance work at Snare Falls. A potential spill was reported to environmental authorities on Thursday.
Staff had noticed last week that the Snare Falls unit was “consuming a higher volume of oil than normal,” the power corporation said, “though there was no evidence that it was being released to the environment.”
The power corporation said booms were put in place several weeks ago, when maintenance work at Snare Falls began, “as a precautionary measure … to ensure that any leaks are contained.”
The cause of the spill is under investigation.
It’s the second time this year that Snare Falls has been shut down over concerns related to oil.
In May, the Snare Falls unit was offline for more than three weeks while a similar problem was investigated and repaired.
Each time Snare Falls goes offline, the Jackfish plant in Yellowknife provides diesel power as required to meet power needs.
“The timetable for completion of the investigation and maintenance work at Snare Falls is unknown. The costs are also unknown,” the power corporation said.
Noel Voykin, the power corporation’s president, said the spill was an example of “ongoing challenges with maintenance” as much of the territory’s power infrastructure is old and needs urgent replacement.
The territory has a 20-year plan to replace ageing equipment.