OTTAWA – Half the fuel storage tanks that remote First Nations use to power their communities fell short of federal standards meant to prevent leaks and spills, a new document shows.
The Conservative government is spending tens of millions of dollars to bring those fuel tanks intoy 2014 to bring 583 tanks into compliance.
Aboriginal Affairs would like to have 750 tanks – which it says represent “approximately 50 per cent of essential tanks on reserve” – in compliance with the regulations by next year.
The department has yet to respond to questions about the tanks.
The 2011 Conservative budget included $45 million spread over four years to help First Nations bring their fuel tanks up to the new standards.
Aboriginal Affairs is also dipping into its own budget to come up with another $34.5 million – which would bring the government’s total planned spending up to $79.5 million.
The department is looking at ways to pay for the remaining fuel tank work once the budget money runs out next year.
Options on the table are to use money from the department’s permanent funding allocations – known as A-base funding – or from the First Nation Infrastructure Fund, according to one of the documents.
Fuel spills can devastate remote First Nations communities that lack the resources or ability to clean them up.
The community of Attawapiskat in northern Ontario had to close its hospital after heating fuel spilled in the basement at the end of November.