Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit July 14, 2014 - 5:55 am

Iqaluit awaits Nunavut approval for dump dousing plan

Soaking method would take 50 days and cost about $4.5 million

The City of Iqaluit has submitted a $4.5 million proposal to douse the dump fire and is now awaiting approval of the plan from the department of Community and Government Services. (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY)
The City of Iqaluit has submitted a $4.5 million proposal to douse the dump fire and is now awaiting approval of the plan from the department of Community and Government Services. (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY)

Putting out Iqaluit’s dump fire will now cost an estimated $4.5 million if the Government of Nunavut approves an updated business plan to extinguish it.

The city sent the plan to the GN’s Department of Community and Government Services July 7 for approval, Iqaluit fire chief Luc Grandmaison said

The proposed plan is largely based on an option put forward by landfill expert Dr. Tony Sperling, who was hired by the city to present options in the hope of finding a solution to 52-day-old mass of smoking refuse.

Smoldering garbage would be scooped out of the dump and, using special pumps, it would be cooled with hoses spraying seawater from the ocean.

Then the hunk of garbage would be dunked in a nearby quenching pond on the west side of the landfill, parallel to the road leading to the causeway.

According to the plan, the fire could be extinguished in about 50 days. The operation would last 12 to 14 hours a day and run seven days a week.

Grandmaison said at least two firefighters would have to stay on site 24 hours a day.

Iqaluit firefighters and volunteer firefighters would help in the operation.

“Approximately 13 firefighters would be needed per day to do this operation seven days a week,” Grandmaison said. 

The preliminary $3.5 million cost estimate Sperling offered to council at a special meeting June 30 was a little premature, Grandmaison said. That estimate was done over the span of a weekend.

After Sperling stayed an extra few days in Iqaluit to reevaluate the fire, he revised his estimate to $4.59 million — $91,853 per day — but that number could grow if it takes longer to extinguish the fire.

The main difference between the recommendation Sperling gave to council June 30 and the plan submitted to CGS is that seawater would be used in the spraying and in the quenching pond, instead of fresh water.

Seawater is not a preferred option, Sperling explained to councillors June 30. He suggested fresh water would be better.

“Marine water is laden with salt. Salt is chlorine. And when you mix chlorine with organics, you’re increasing the risk of dioxins,” Sperling said then.

But the risk of dangerous chemicals being released in the air if the fire is left to smolder is greater than if salt water is added to the fire, Sperling told Nunatsiaq News.

“More important is to stop the smoldering. The best way to contain dioxin release is to put out smoldering fires ASAP and not to stir the dust around and let the particulates escape,” Sperling said.

The seawater being sprayed on the dump fire will help control that dust, which may contain hazardous chemicals, Sperling said.

And “it’s the volume of water needed,” Grandmaison explained. The City of Iqaluit simply doesn’t have the resources to pump enough fresh water into the fire and the quenching pond. 

“It’s the same issue we started with. We cannot bring enough water trucks to the scene,” Grandmaison said.

The estimated 40-metre long, 15-metre in wide, and 1.5 to two-metres deep quenching pond would be refilled every one-and-a-half days.

That would require an input of roughly 50 million litres of seawater over the course of the project, Grandmaison said.

The soaked garbage would then be transferred to the vacant north section of the landfill. Dirt would also be layered with garbage to prevent another fire.

There would also be a decontamination area for about 14 pieces of heavy equipment exposed to seawater, otherwise the equipment would deteriorate from the salt. 

However, some seawater will probably run into the ocean after being sprayed on the fire, Grandmaison admitted.

That’s a contentious issue, because chemicals leaching into the ocean might cause harm to fish in the area and that would likely violate the Fisheries Act.

“We will try everything to contain the water,” Grandmaison said.

Because the fire is burning at a temperature of 500 degrees Celsius, the heat will absorb most of the water, Grandmaison said.

The ashes in the fire will absorb the water as well. And the water will be collected in a berm built around the area.

“What cannot be absorbed or evaporated through the heat, then it can be collected at the end. But it doesn’t mean all the water runoff will find its way to the end area,” Grandmaison said. 

“Basically we’re sitting on a bedrock so, probably there’s cracks and everything. So that’s the risk,” he said.

A big concern for Grandmaison, however, is the price tag for the project, and who would pay for it.

“We’re hoping the government can step in at one point to help us in regards to that,” Grandmaison said.

“The first thing — finance has to be secured for the project,” Grandmaison said.

Grandmaison doesn’t know when or if the project will be implemented. Community and Government Services has yet to approve it.



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(20) Comments:

#1. Posted by concerned on July 14, 2014

It’s too little too late. Why won’t the city make public the air quality tests? ? If the results found no harmful contaminants then why is it not be made public? Who is going to compensate the people who have been sick since it started? There have been no ‘serious’ hospital visits. But it’s perfectly ok to have asthma develop in a normal healthy person who has been exposed to this? Our residents are suffering. The long term affects of this won’t be known for a decade. How is it more cost effective to let this go on and on versus the cost of the health affects? People with existing breathing problems can’t really be expecTed to ‘stay inside’ for 2 months…

#2. Posted by i want compensation too... on July 14, 2014

@1 And how are you going to determine if a person’s sickness has been caused by the dump fire…or by the person’s long term smoking habit, and/or other poor health lifestyle choices the person has made?

Can non smokers demand compensation from the smokers in the territory for the impact of their smoking on their health? Nunavut only has the highest per capita smoking rate in Canada…

#3. Posted by Bob on July 14, 2014

If “the long term affects of this won’t be known for a decade” then how do you know that asthma is developing in healthy people after exposure? Fear mongering contradiction.

#4. Posted by WOAH on July 14, 2014

This isn’t a fire….. I haven’t seen any flames since it started!!!!!!!!!!

I am warning you guys that are on the city council, will not be re-elected in the future. Although it may not be your duty, but who cares, you guys are supposted to be “leaders” and speak up for us people here in Iqaluit.

Can we also vote a fire chef as well… the near future.  This is getting tiring. I’m sure theres people here that will do it for free, and volunteer to shut it off!

I wonder why the one in Rankin lasted 5 days? It’s because Inuit make the decisions over there, and they are not walked all over unlike here.

PLEASE TURN IT OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#5. Posted by Charlie on July 14, 2014

Didn’t Iqaluit hired a person for 350$ an hour to solve this problem, his idea was the best in da whole wide world.

#6. Posted by Boblahblah on July 14, 2014

Bob,  I think you are being disingenuous.  the development of asthma is not a long term health effect.  It is happening right now in the short term. Don’t try to mislead people.

The dump fire is bad for people’s health.  It is causing, right now, in the short term, adverse health effects.

Fear mongering is acceptable as this fire, and the smoke, particulates, dioxins and furans will kill people.  It is killing people right now.  They aren’t dead yuet, but they are getting sicker and sicker every day.

If you really think the dump smoke is not harmful to human health then you have obvioulsy been exposed to too much of it.

#7. Posted by Let it burn! on July 14, 2014

I am not bothered by the occasional change in wind direction which provides a bit of stink now and again.  Let the whiners start separating garbage and not dispose of fire hazards.

Let us move on to different news for a change.

#8. Posted by Yeah, I'll compensate you #2... on July 14, 2014

Yes you can demand compensation.  Come right on over and demand it.  All you have to do is ask me, and I will compensate you in a way appropriate to your request.

Hows about we treat all sick people with compassion and care, and not judge them on thier lifestyle choice?

Living in Nunavut is detrimental to human health.  That is why nunavummiut die sooner than other canadians.  Living here decreases life expectancy by over a decade.  If you live here, you will die ten years younger than you would down south.  This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t provide treatment to sick nunavummiut, just becasue they “choose” to live in an unhealthy place.

Get down off your high horse….

#9. Posted by Christopher Armand on July 14, 2014

Comments about smokers and non-smokers don’t really make sense in the context of the dump smoke. The dump smoke goes into into town and affects smokers and non-smokers. Sure Nunavut has a high smoking rate, that doesnt mean the people of Iqaluit should have to put up with the burning dump.

#10. Posted by What a bone head on July 14, 2014

#4 it probably has something to do with the Rankin fire being much smaller by comparison. Funny how you turn it into a race thing, because only Inuit know how to put out a fire, right?

What a joke.

#11. Posted by Bargin on July 14, 2014

I’m surprised smokers and smoker-uppers are complaining, this dump fire is giving you people a new ‘high’ to experience. i thought they would of been all up for fire to keep blasting for a year as it will supply FREE highs for a WHOLE year! Talk about a bargin

#12. Posted by Nunavut on July 15, 2014

#7-Well said…...
#9-Seriously? well why does most other Nunavut communities have to put up with dump smoke on a daily basis? $5 million to shut it out just so the “City” doesn’t have to smell the occasional smoke when the wind shifts? And from the pictures it isn’t that much smoke to do any harm as proven with the air quality tests already done. If you hate the smoke so much then why do you let it happen to every small community in Nunavut where GN allows it to burn just so they can save $$$ up to extinguish the dump in the capital?
#11-LOL do you get high also from smelling a candle? If you are getting high off the dump I am betting you are the only one floating in your boat.

#13. Posted by Forester on July 15, 2014

Over 4 million to put a dump fire out! It is amazing the city can operate as it does, so much incompetence!
If the city crew just had started to take the pile out with a large backhoe and putting out as they dig it out, by this time from the start if the fire to now I’m sure it would of been out.
I guess more outside experts will be needed to decide on something else later.

#14. Posted by Piliriqatigiinniq on July 15, 2014

Please Iqaluit, do NOT accept this plan unless the garbage is scooped, dunked, AND MOVED to the new waste site location. $5+ Million is simply to much just to shut some people up eveytime the wind shifts. The piles of garbage are the problem!

#15. Posted by you're welcome to volunteer... on July 15, 2014

@13 Ummn, the major costs of putting the fire out is not going to be from paying “outside experts” as many writers on here seem to suggest.

It’s not going to be outsiders who are going to put the fire out. There’s no crews being imported to do this.  It’s going to be put out by people who are working for the local government already.

It’s sad there’s so much bashing of experts and educated people on here.  It’s little wonder the GN has a problem recruiting people with good educations up here.

If you and others are willing to work for free and you have the skills needed to put the fire out, you’re more than welcome to volunteer your services. 

#16. Posted by Frobfisher on July 16, 2014

Please do not bother with putting it out. Where I come from they have been burning since it became a community. No matter wind direction. Never stopped the gov’t from not burning garbage. By the way, it is not burning. It is called smoldering. Very little smoke, no flames=not very much harm. It seams to be only the ones that are complaining are the ones who walk around with there heads up high. Just let it burn, seems since we became a capital this little town has been getting pickier n pickier.  Remember us Inuk’s way of survival? We always learn to adapt n accept. That is what made us strong to survive in this cold and harsh climate. Not to run away to daddy(fed gov’t) every time something a little bit annoying. Go stop by the hospital, haven’t been anyone admitted for smoke risks like the forest firefigters have to deal with every day. Man up!

#17. Posted by Non~sense Inuk on July 16, 2014

This is stupid. GN don’t have money for our health program, education and infrastructer for our population but they do have money for useless and garbage.  Wake up GN.

#18. Posted by @Frobfisher on July 17, 2014

@Frobfisher - Quite the uneducated opinion my friend.  “Very little smoke”  are you kidding me??

#19. Posted by Frobfisher on July 17, 2014

@#18-yes it is very little smoke. If there was a lot to be a health hazard then why has no one been admitted for smoke inhalation? I have done a couple summers as a forest firefighter and this smoke is nowhere near enough for a health hazard. It is just a niusance. Just the smell of garbage in the little smoke is getting to people. And that is only when the wind blows it into town.

#20. Posted by Forester on July 18, 2014

#15 The city already pays people to work with heavy equipment, they have paid staff that could be working on this during the day. What has the city actually been doing to put the fire out besides contracting outside experts to come up with a expensive plan?
Not very much. Now we will wait to see if this very expensive decision will be approved. 
So why bother having paid employees when you can pay more for outside work? Doesn’t make much sense but then again common sense doesn’t seem to be used much by the city.

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