Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit December 04, 2013 - 9:24 am

In the long run, Iqaluit needs waste incinerator: city council

Proposed waste disposal facility is a “building block to incineration”

PETER VARGA
Iqaluit’s director of engineering Meagan Leach, right, takes questions about the city’s proposed waste disposal facility from city councillors, Dec. 2. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)
Iqaluit’s director of engineering Meagan Leach, right, takes questions about the city’s proposed waste disposal facility from city councillors, Dec. 2. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)

Iqaluit’s proposed new waste disposal facility won’t include an incinerator, but it will lay the groundwork needed for such a system in the future, according to the city’s director of engineering.

Even though plans for the city’s new waste disposal facility are on the verge of final approval after more than two years of planning and review, most councillors agree the city must eventually acquire an incinerator to keep landfill levels to a minimum.

Councillors discussed the proposed facility at an engineering and public works committee of the whole meeting, Dec. 2.

“I thought we were in favour of incineration,” said councillor Terry Dobbin, pointing out that residents at a public consultation meeting in June also favoured the burning of garbage. Dobbin questioned why the new facility did not include this.

The city’s plans call for a waste disposal site located northwest if the city, 8.5 kilometres from the city centre.

The facility is part of new solid waste management plan that would include composting, separation of recyclable material and hazardous waste, as well as a re-use centre and end-of life-vehicles program, according to the city’s department of engineering and sustainability.

The plan would keep about 44 per cent of waste generated in Iqaluit out of the landfill. An alternative incineration plan, which the department chose not to take due to higher costs, would have reduced landfill waste by 67 per cent.

Removal of compostable material such as food and wood waste, and separation of other materials creates a program that will allow for incineration in the future, said Meagan Leach, the city’s director of engineering and sustainability.

“I feel that the program that we’re proposing is basically a building block to incineration,” she said. “You can’t incinerate every part of the waste stream.”

Any program to burn waste requires separation of hazardous waste, bulky items, and materials of a certain composition, Leach said.

An incineration program would require a new solid waste management site, although ash from a future incinerator could be disposed of at the proposed Northwest facility, she said.

Garbage landfills, under new regulations, cannot be located within four kilometres of the city’s airport, which rules out most alternatives to the proposed Northwest site.

Mayor John Graham pointed out that an incinerator would not be subject to such a limitation, and would help cut down on waste diverted to landfills.

“I am a big proponent of incineration,” Graham said, adding that he looked into some possible models in other Canadian cities in the summer, but could find none that were fully operational.

“There’s got to be some places in Canada that have this, but we didn’t find it,” he said.

Coun. Kenny Bell asked whether composting is a proven option in Iqaluit. Leach replied that a city pilot project on sewage sludge, and a project by a local organization called the Bill Mackenzie Humanitarian Society showed positive results.

Leach recalled information from studies in the planning stages of the project.

A brief by the waste-management planning firm Exp Inc. for the City of Iqaluit stated that outdoor “windrow composting,” called for in the city’s proposed plan, would be much slower in sub-zero temperatures.

Also according to the brief, a project in the City of Yellowknife showed that windrow composting takes almost twice as long to complete in that city’s sub-Arctic conditions.

“The soil takes longer to compost here, but it is a viable program for our region,” Leach said.

Once passed by council, the proposed $9 million waste site would be designed in 2014 and completed in 2015, at earliest, according to the city’s department of engineering.

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