Iqaluit #dumpcano smoke forces 2 schools to close

Two Iqaluit schools are closed again this morning as smoke from the ongoing dump fire blows over town, and the Department of Health is advising residents to avoid the smoke if possible.

'It’s horrible. It’s not sanitary. Right now we’re in school and it’s clogging up our school'

Smoke from the fire at the Iqaluit landfill can be seen from anywhere in the city. Greg Babstock tweeted this photo May 29, a week and a half after the city council voted to stop fighting the blaze. (Greg Babstock/Twitter)

There’s an ominous haze over Iqaluit.

Westerly winds are expected to blow smoke from a fire at the city's landfill right into town again today.

Yesterday, Joamie elementary school and Aqsarniit middle school closed because of smoke from the smouldering garbage, which has been burning for over two weeks now. 

Iqaluit City Council decided to let the fire burn after it flared up on May 20. The fire, which has flared up repeatedly in recent years, was dubbed a "dumpcano" after the city's fire chief compared it to a volcano. 

Today, Aqsarniit is once again closed and Nanook elementary school in Apex has also closed its doors.

It seems this is the new normal for students like Simeonie Arnaquq.

“It’s annoying that we can’t even be at school because of the smoke.”

Inuksuk high school has remained open, but student Alashua Crowley says the fire was still affecting classes.

“It’s horrible. It’s not sanitary. Right now we’re in school and it’s clogging up our school.”

More than a decade ago, Alashua’s dad, Paul Crowley, was part of a group of concerned citizens who took the city to court over burning at the dump.

They lost the case, but the city decided not to burn garbage intentionally anymore.

Crowley says the situation now is worse.

“People say, ‘Aw, we always used to burn,’ but that was paper bags. Now we’ve got plastics and electronics everywhere. In North America, they say you should not burn garbage because the smoke that comes out of it is very dangerous.”

Nunavut's Fire Chief Luc Grandmaison says the fire department has restricted the burning to one section.

They're letting it burn to avoid wasting water and to protect firefighters.

Grandmaison says the best solution right now is a stiff wind in the right direction to quickly burn this problem to the ground.

The Department of Health has once again issued an advisory asking people with heart and lung disease, the elderly and the very young to stay indoors as much as possible, with the windows closed and air exchangers turned off.

“If you have to go outside, limit physical activity,” the advisory reads.

It suggests people who don’t feel well seek medical attention.


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