Iqaluit cleanup postponed because of landfill smoke hazard
Westerly winds put off annual event to June 20; schools sending kids home
Iqaluit’s annual community cleanup won’t occur as planned on June 13, because forecasts call for westerly winds to blow smoke from the three-week-old dump fire into the city that day.
Nunavut’s pollution control section of the Department of Environment, which organizes the yearly event, decided to postpone the event to June 20, based on weather forecasts.
“We don’t want to be asking people to go out and participate in a clean-up when there’s a potential for exposure to smoke from the dump fire,” said Jamessee Moulton, who works in pollution prevention for the department.
Smoke from the dump fire, which started May 20, blows into the city with westerly winds. The territorial departments of health and environment have repeatedly warned city residents to limit their exposure on such days.
At least three schools in Iqaluit have called off classes at various times, whenever foul-smelling air shifted onto school grounds and into their ventilation systems.
Among them are Aqsarniit Middle School, which most recently called off classes for the afternoon on June 11.
“The problem is, because of the dump just being a mishmash of everything, it’s close to impossible to predict what exactly is coming out — because we don’t know what is being burned,” Moulton said June 11.
Officials from Moulton’s federal counterparts, Environment Canada, recently started an air quality monitoring program to find out exactly what is in the dump smoke, and assess hazards.
“If it wasn’t for the wind direction, we wouldn’t be cancelling,” said Moulton. “Public advisories have been to limit exposure, and to that effect we are postponing the clean-up.”
Barring further issues with the weather, the morning event will take place as planned, on June 20.
Moulton’s pollution prevention program promotes and supports community clean-up events in all communities of Nunavut. The Department of Environment organizes the event in the Nunavut capital.
In other communities, it offers cleanup event T-shirts and a chance to win Canadian North airline tickets to all volunteer who pick up garbage on specific days, organized by each community.
The hamlet of Baker Lake was the first to begin this week, according to Sidney Horlick, pollution prevention assistant with the Department of Environment. Rankin Inlet has scheduled a hamlet clean-up event for June 13, she said.
Kimmirut and Pangnirtung are set to hold their events next, on June 17 and June 19, respectively.
Volunteers throughout Nunavut will have a chance at win two airline tickets from Canadian North.
One winner will be drawn from each of four regions: North Baffin, South Baffin, Kivalliq and the Kitikmeot. Winners will be announced August 1.