Yukon Weekly

To lift water order, Iqaluit is working on GN requirements

Key Takeaway:

  • The City of Iqaluit should meet before people in the city can start having their tap water again.
  • The city will also need to check and test the city’s water pipes to ensure no fuel remains in the city building.

The Department of Health has set a few requirements. The City of Iqaluit should meet before people in the city can start having their tap water again.

It’s been about five weeks since the government issued a do-not-consume water consultative following the discovery of fuel contamination at the Iqaluit’s treatment plant.

The list is vast, with several measures meant to demonstrate that the water is safe to drink and that city staff understands how fuel got in the water treatment plant and what work is needed to scrub it out.

“The most important thing is that the water treatment plant is back online, providing safe drinking water,” wrote Health person Danarae Sommerville in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

The city will also need to check and test the city’s water pipes to ensure no fuel remains in the city building.

There is also a need to produce an announcement that shows how the fuel entered the system, what the source of the contamination it was, and why different places of the water treatment plant did not end up being as susceptible as the one tank where the majority of the fuel was seen. 

Fuel tended to collect in one underground tank at the water treatment plant, called the North Clear well. On Oct. 12, before the cleanup began, hydrocarbon levels in that tank were many hundred times more than Canada’s Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. For example, levels of benzene in the tank on that day were 600 times higher than what’s considered safe.

If the city cannot provide testing for bacteria, Sommerville said issuing a boil water advisory will also be one of the points.

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The city also wants to create three plans, including an outline of how it plans to monitor its water system, a contingency plan if fuel enters the system, and an explanation of what work is being done.

The city has hired engineering company WSP Canada to carry out much of this work. Representatives for WSP gave a presentation to the board on Monday, which included some raw testing data and how it’s believed the fuel entered the plant.

There is substantial proof that the spill came from a historic underground fuel storage tank part of the original water treatment plant construction, said Ian Moran.

The underground fuel storage tank is located within the void, between the water treatment plant and exposed bedrock. The opening intends to provide an air barrier between the water treatment plant and the external environment. All evidence suggests that the contaminant entered the water treatment plant through a wastewater collection tank. Upon entry to this tank, contaminant vaporized and wicked into the Raw Water Storage Tank. The contaminant passed through the water treatment system and was ultimately collected in the North Clearwell from the Raw Water Storage Tank.

WSP has also set a real-time hydrocarbon monitoring system in the facility.

On Monday, Iqaluit’s chief administrative officer Amy Elgersma told the council that the city had hired a company to clean up the suspected contamination source of the historic fuel spill.

She said the city does not have a timeline for when the work will be completed.

Sommerville said the GN is presenting test results the territorial government has collected from municipal water samples. It will be given to the public when it’s completed. She did not indicate when that would be either.

Source-CTV News

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