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FORT NELSON, B.C. — The BC Oil and Gas Commission cleaned up over 100 fuel barrels after being notified by Fort Nelson First Nation (FNFN) of their existence earlier this year.

The First Nation contacted the commission after discovering 107 barrels of aviation fuel on a remote airstrip in the Thinahtea area northeast of Fort Nelson.

According to the commission, the barrels had been abandoned since the mid-1990s, and no owner could be found.

The commission said the final cleanup took place in late August 2022.

With funding from the commission, FNFN and the commission partnered to arrange the removal of the fuel, including drafting a project plan and hiring a contractor.

The commission, FNFN, a helicopter company and ground support personnel all helped in the project.

The commission explained that a pre-work meeting was held to review the project, site safety plan and role assignments.

The helicopter company reportedly provided training on helicopter safety, slinging and operations of the fuel pump and fuel easy bladders that would be used.

On the first day, the commission personnel, FNFN personnel and group support crews travelled to a staging area on a high-grade road as close as possible to the airstrip before being divided into two groups.

The first group remained at the staging area, and the other headed to the airstrip.

Due to their age, the barrels were not safe to transport, so the crew used a pump to empty all of the fuel into the fuel easy bladders, which were then taken by helicopter to the staging crew and emptied into a tanker truck.

The empty barrels were netted and taken to the staging area as well before being taken to Richmond Steel in Fort Nelson for recycling.

The fuel was transported to Fort Nelson, where it will be used to heat industrial shops.

“We are proud to have worked with FNFN to complete this project and thank them for bringing forward this potential environmental hazard,” said the commission in a newsletter.

The commission says the storage site at the airstrip is being assessed to ensure any leftover fuel is cleaned up.

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.