ALL REPORTS OF GLOBAL WARMING ASIDE, MAINTAINING A PERSISTENT NAVAL PRESENCE IN THE HIGH ARCTIC IS CHALLENGING. CANADA'S NAVAL REFUELING STATION IS A GOOD CASE STUDY.
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USCG AND CANADIAN COAST GUARD ICE BREAKERS: PHOTO USCG
Canada has a very large High Arctic coastline and many islands above the Arctic Circle. They appear to be much more anxious than the United States by comparison to really establish a persistent naval / coast guard / fisheries enforcement and mineral leasing persistent presence. A very important key to the Canadian Federal Government's plan to establish and maintain such a presence is their High Arctic Naval Refueling Station.
This planned station was to be constructed at the deep-water port of Nanisivik high in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. It has now been six years since Prime minister Stephen Harper announced the planned establishment of the refueling station. Today the station site still remains unprepared for naval service being mired down in a turtle paced environmental clean up and threats of legal action. The site six years after being publicly dedicated to High arctic naval service remains in the hands of Canada's federal fisheries department.
Despite four years of pressure from the naval establishment, the previous owners of the site Break Water Resources, a zinc mining operation have yet to perform a mandated clean up of their former tank farm. The actual land at the site belongs to the Crown. But the previous tenant is responsible for the environmental clean up. Clean ups at these latitudes must be conducted during a short season of suitable weather. It was expected that the clean up might take more than one season, but last year, the previous owners did no visible work. The previous owners are litigating with the Navy to avoid having to clean up the tank farm, they want the Navy to reuse it.
The navy has been very clear that they want it removed. This refueling station is the key to Canada's plan to keep 8 to 10 ice breaking light patrol craft in the area for most of the year. This would be Canada's only High Arctic permanent naval facility. By contrast the Russians have 10 comparable stations. Not only has the construction start on this facility been delayed for six years over an environmental clean up, the local villagers are now complaining that the project is bigger and more commercial than originally presented to them. Unless you live in Russia ....it ain't easy being green on ice.
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