As Iqaluit landfill overflows, residents propose incinerator

The city of Iqaluit is looking for ways to deal with its garbage as the community landfill overflows. Some residents have proposed the idea of an incinerator.

New landfill to create more space

Some residents of Iqaluit would like to consider a furnace which would turn trash into heat energy. (CBC)
The city of Iqaluit is looking for ways to deal with its garbage as the community landfill overflows.

Some residents have proposed the idea of an incinerator.

Iqaluit is preparing to open a second landfill about nine kilometres northwest of the city's centre. It will replace the current landfill which has been filled to its maximum.

"The dump overflows, garbage gets blown around into the water and can be dangerous for boat motors," said local resident Moses Attagoyuk.

Meagan Leach, director of engineering and sustainability for Iqaluit, said there are no plans for an incinerator at the moment. However the possibility has not been ruled out.

"If we were to decide to look at incineration in the future, we'd need to make sure hazardous waste is separated out and have organics out of the waste stream," she said.


Incinerators used elsewhere in Canada: Mixed results

Systems to incinerate garbage are used in different Canadian municipalities.

One example is Charlottetown, P.E.I. The capital and surrounding area has used an incinerator system since 1985.

Gerry Moore is CEO of Island Waste Management, the Crown Corporation that handles garbage for PEI.

He said the system runs on unrecyclable plastic and other garbage. The Charlottetown facility burns 26 to 28 thousand tonnes a year and turns household and commercial waste into heat energy.

Moore says it is cheaper or comparable to heating local buildings with oil or electricity.

While P.E.I considers the project a success, incineration hasn't worked as well in Îles-de-la-Madeleine in the Gulf of St.Lawrence, where Jean Hubert is the municipal engineer and was the main waste manager from 2003 to 2011.

After a vast study and consultation, the municipality decided to close its incinerator in 2008.

Hubert says the maintenance of the system was not worth the cost.

"We put a lot of money on it in repairs, and it was deteriorating very quickly," he said.

Problems with the incinerator included corrosion from sea air and a lack of an official landfill for the ashes..

While Îles-de-la-Madeleine's project has been shut down, the community is not abandoning the idea of an incinerator.

Hubert says the islands are now looking at new technology to handle garbage and revive the project.


Iqaluit considers composting, recycling

In Iqaluit, one idea to cut waste is the creation of a salvage centre where residents could drop off items to be re-used. Another idea is the recycling of bulky metal such as cars.

The Department of Engineering and Sustainability is also recommending an outdoor composting option. The resulting compost would be used as landfill cover.

The composting plan would cost just over one million dollars a year to operate...

Composting and incineration would cost almost double that amount.

Both options would reduce the amount of waste going to landfills.

The city of Iqaluit expects a final decision on waste management by August.