Manitoba

Shamattawa helped by no-sniff gas

An odourless gasoline made halfway across the globe has proven an effective weapon in a battle against solvent abuse on a Manitoba First Nation community.

An odourless gasoline made halfway across the globe has proven an effective weapon in a battle against solvent abuse on a Manitoba First Nation community.

Opal gasoline, made in Australia, has its intoxicating elements removed during the refining process, so solvent abusers can’t use it to get high.

The reserve community of Shamattawa brought in the gasoline last summer as part of an experiment, and RCMP working there say it’s made a difference in the number of intoxicated people who are detained by police.

"I know for 2010 we lodged a lot less [people for sniffing] than we had my previous year in 2009," said Cpl. Raelyn Hart.

The product has also helped combat sniffing issues in its country of origin. 

There were an estimated 600 solvent abusers who sniffed gas in the central desert region of Australia's Northern Territory in 2006, but that number was more than halved by 2008, a 2009 report from that country's government stated.

A social worker for the Central Australian Youth Link-Up Service estimated at the time that the number of regular sniffers has fallen from 500 to 20.

The fuel’s drawback is that it doesn’t perform well in cold weather, and Shamattawa is located just south of Hudson Bay.