- The mayor of Iqaluit released new information on Nov. 15 about the source of contamination at the city’s water treatment plant, a historic underground fuel storage tank that dates back to 1962.
On Oct. 24, city workers and the consulting firm WSP discovered fuel in the vacuum of the North Clear Well, the underground well where hydrocarbons were found entering Iqaluit’s water supply. There is an empty region known as the void between the underground bedrock and the water treatment facility.
It’s designed to act as an air barrier between the rock and the plant, and it’s generally only accessible with specific training. It works similarly to an insulated coffee mug. “While investigating the void, discovered significant proof of the contamination’s source.
“There were no other discovered sources of contamination other than the historic subsurface storage tank,” said Ian Moran, WSP assistant. At the end of October, the suspected entry site for fuel into the city’s water supply (North Clear Well) was bypassed, and residential residences were flushed. However, residents of the territory capital are still urged not to drink the water as the city works to meet the conditions of the Government of Nunavut to declare the water safe to drink.
“The City is working closely with the Government of Nunavut and a team of specialists to meet the CPHO’s (chief public health officer) standards,” said Amy Elgersma, the city’s chief administrative officer. City workers have also been observed flushing Iqaluit’s water system, most recently near the Qikiqtani General Hospital on Nov. 18.
A scan water monitoring system has been placed between the clear south well and the reservoir, where the filtered water from Lake Geraldine is stored for daily use by inhabitants. “The monitoring system provides real-time detection of petroleum hydrocarbons,” Moran explained, implying that the technology will alert water treatment plant managers if hydrocarbon concentrations are detected.
Shortly, the Government of Nunavut is expected to make a public presentation using the data they have gathered thus far.
Work on the contamination site is also continuing, including the removal of the contamination source. The territorial capital is still under a do not consume order, and the Government of Nunavut has issued a reminder not to drink or cook with the water.
The following items can still be done with tap water:
- Baths and showers
- Washing dishes
Tap water can be used to bathe everyone, including pregnant women, babies, and infants. The current amounts of hydrocarbon identified in drinking water have been determined to cause no long-term health or developmental concern.
Source: Nunavut News