D.O.T. Salvaging 20,000 "EMPTIES"

In the photos above, Wes Nigel and Vic Decloux operate a steam generator

and prepare barrels for steaming at the Resolute ionosphere station


Millions of gallons of oil are shipped into the Arctic every year. Oil for heating and cook­ing, oil for diesel electric generating and oil for operating bulldozers or motor boats. It is shipped to the various outposts in 45-gallon steel drums and the requirements of each of these Arctic stations are extensive. For many years now these drums have been going in but for economic reasons the empties have never been brought out. They are a familiar sight at every northern post and have become useful in many respects, such as markers for airstrips or for storing water.


The Department of Transport has initiated a huge salvaging undertaking to clean and bring out as many of these empty oil drums as possible. This has been considered very essential in view of the steel shortage, which is reflected in the reduced availability of steel oil drums. It is becoming uneconomical to continue shipping steel oil drums into the Arctic and leaving them there. Even though the cost of salvage is high and the value per drum is only $12.00, the shortage is making the salvage undertaking necessary in the interest of overall economy.


The first stage in this large scale oil-drum salvage has been initiated at one of Canada's most northerly weather stations, Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island, 1,000 miles from the north pole and 1,700 miles due north of Winnipeg. At this establishment there is estimated to be close to 20,000 empty oil drums, most of which are sal­vageable. Equipment was flown in to Resolute Bay this spring for the purpose of steam cleaning the drums so that they will not constitute a hazard on board ship on their way out. Two young men, Wes Nicoll and Walter Mellor, are earning their way through college working on the project.


Resolute Bay is provisioned each year by the Arctic sea re-supply mission consisting of a freighter and two ice-breakers. This task force is a portion of the United States contribution to operation and upkeep of the jointly operated Northern weather stations. Arrangements have been made for this supply mission to bring out approximately 10,000 of the Resolute oil drums.


It is estimated that when all charges assessed against this salvage operation will have been liquidated, there will be a clear profit to the public treasury of around $50,000, in addition to bringing approximately 10,000 much-needed oil drums back into circulation.


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