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Third barge to Norman Wells and Tulita cancelled due to dangerously low waters

Norman Wells and Tulita will not get their third barge this year due to dangerously low water levels on the Mackenzie River.
Marine Transportation Services says Norman Wells and Tulita will not get a third barge delivery this year due to dangerously low waters. NNSL file photo

Norman Wells and Tulita will not get their third barge this year due to dangerously low water levels on the Mackenzie River.

An announcement was made by the GNWT at 4:36 p.m., Sept. 8. The notice says it would be unsafe to complete the deliveries.

“Safety of crew, vessels and the environment is paramount. The low water levels make it dangerous to continue to operate on the Mackenzie River,” says the notice. “MTS staff is currently assessing the deck cargo and making alternate plans for shipment. MTS will work directly with affected customers.

“Marine Transportation Services staff addressed historically low water levels early in the sailing season and were able to adjust the approach to delivery and as a result all other community resupply will be delivered as scheduled in the coming weeks. A full update on the 2023 shipping season will be provided once all trips are completed. Customers inquiring about cargo can call MTS toll free at 1-844-574-2023 or 1-867-874-2651.”

Emphasizing the GNWT’s point about the danger of low water, the notice adds that the Vic Ingraham sliced it’s hull crossing a marked channel — while completely empty. The notice goes on to add the low waters have posed challenges for other marine services such as the Coast Guard and many commercial shipping companies. Low waters have been a problem both with the dredging of the Hay River harbour and moving along the Mackenzie River.

The notice adds customers should not be concerned about fuel supplies, which it says have already been accounted for.

“Fuel supply is not an issue,” says the notice. “Fuel for Tulita was delivered earlier in summer, diesel for Deline was to be shipped on this final sailing and stored in Tulita with final trans-shipment to Deline on the winter road in 2024. Diesel for Deline will now be shipped entirely by winter road in 2024. Norman Wells fuel is supplied directly by Imperial Oil.

“MTS will work with communities and customers to make alternate shipping plans - this could include shipping priority items by air and the rest by winter road or next season.”

A scheduled deliver to Fort Good Hope is going as scheduled. MTS says a tugboat with six barges left Tuktoyaktuk and should be in Fort Good Hope by the weekend. After that, the tugboat will return to Tuktoyaktuk to transport fuel to Inuvik.

Deliveries to the Inuvialuit Settlement Region have not been disrupted.

About the Author: Eric Bowling

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