Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit July 24, 2014 - 7:21 am

Fire prompts Iqaluit to make more space at smouldering dump site

City unveils solutions for wood waste, worker safety

PETER VARGA
The City of Iqaluit took a few steps to ease the mess at its overloaded, smouldering landfill July 22, including a plan to relocate a several utility poles that crowd the site. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)
The City of Iqaluit took a few steps to ease the mess at its overloaded, smouldering landfill July 22, including a plan to relocate a several utility poles that crowd the site. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)

Iqaluit’s public works department is working fast to create more space at its troubled landfill site, where a two-month-old dump fire continues to smoulder.

The latest changes, approved by city council at a July 22 meeting, include the purchase of a burner box for wood and paper waste, and an order to move utility poles off the dump site grounds.

“The city faces an emergency situation at the landfill site,” Iqaluit’s director of public works, Keith Couture, told council.

Keeping as much waste as possible out of the landfill is now a high priority, and removing high-volume flammable items such as wood and paper is an obvious first step, he said.

“It’ll allow us to keep ahead of all the tonnage coming in,” he said.

With that, the city accepted the purchase of a “fire box,” or air curtain burner, to burn all such products. The equipment will burn up to six tonnes of wood and paper every hour.

Priced at $155,000, the equipment can be moved around the city, and does not emit smoke or other pollutants, Couture said.

The decision to purchase it is part of the city’s plan to separate household garbage.

Urgent plans to extinguish the landfill fire also drew attention to the placement of utility poles in and around the dump. Many of them are hindering landfill operations due to their location on the dump grounds and cables that hang too low, Couture said.

A series of six poles at the northern end of the landfill run right across the site, he said, which create a safety hazard for equipment.

“The trucks can grab the wires. They’re high-voltage, and there’s telephone lines,” Couture said. The public works department estimated the cost of moving the most dangerous poles at about $73,600.

The amount would be drawn from the landfill’s decommissioning fund, which will cover all costs linked to the eventual closure of the site.

“This is needed because of the nature of the fire,” said John Hussey, chief administrative officer for the city. “With the proposal to address the fire situation, the poles are in the way.”

Hussey admitted the city had trouble getting final estimates on costs to relocate the poles from NorthwesTel, which is responsible for the telephone lines.

Council accepted a decision to move the poles based on the estimated costs, given the urgency of the fire department’s dump fire-extinguishing plan.

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