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Gas money not enough - NTI president

Brent Reaney
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (July 27/05) - A gas compensation program announced two weeks ago does not go far enough and is too complicated, says the head of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

The program applies to people in all Kivalliq communities - except Whale Cove which received its gas from a different refinery - found to have experienced gas-induced spark plug fouling in extremely cold weather.

Without a receipt, those affected can claim gas vouchers worth $6 per plug up to a maximum of 30, or $180 per vehicle.

But considering the high cost of living in the North, and the harvesting time lost by hunters this past winter, NTI president Paul Kaludjak said this money is not enough.

"We wanted Shell Canada to be a little more merciful to people that broke down," he said.

Rankin Inlet's Thomas Angoshadluk agrees with Kaludjak. "It's a little too small considering what people here have to go through to get the money," he said in a call to the newspaper last week after reading about the program.

And people wishing to claim more than the $180 will need receipts - something Kaludjak said was "a little bit ridiculous" to expect.

"Many Inuit don't keep receipts for parts that they buy in Nunavut," he said.

In order to claim engine damage, snow machine and ATV owners are expected to provide proof of proper engine maintenance, among other documentation.

Shell spokesperson Denita Davis said the deal has already been approved by cabinet and the company has fully investigated every complaint.

Shell's research has not shown the gas to have caused any permanent damage, but Davis said the company is willing to deal with any other complaints. In addition to the hiring of an administrator, Davis said an 800-number will be established for those wishing to make engine damage claims.

"There will be assistance provided to help people go through the process," she said.

Kaludjak suggested a similar solution to the 2002 bad gas scenario, where photos of damaged engines and inspections by insurance adjusters were sufficient evidence.

Davis said the engine damage claims process is a standard company procedure.

To date, Shell Canada has spent $500,000 dealing with gasoline supply problems in Nunavut.

Calls to the Nunavut government's communications department were not returned before deadline.