Iqaluit to seek military’s help in tackling dumpcano

Hundreds of military personnel will soon be in Iqaluit for Operation Nanook. City officials plan to meet with people from the Department of National Defence to see if they can help put out the dump fire, which has been burning for almost three months.

Citizens group sees no need to stage a mock emergency when a real emergency exists

Julie Alivaktuk at the Iqaluit dump in early July. "Taima" or "enough" is written on her hand in syllabics. The citizens group Iqalummiut for Action, is hoping that the military will lend a hand to put the fire out when personnel are in town for Operation Nanook. (Shawn Inukshuk)

The City of Iqaluit will meet with officials from the Department of National Defence to see if they can help put out the dump fire, which has been burning for almost three months.

Christa Kunuk and Sarah McNair-Landry are members of Iqalummiut for Action. (CBC)
Starting next week, hundreds of military personnel will be in Iqaluit for Operation Nanook. Each year the exercise brings together the armed forces and various agencies to practice handling potential emergencies in the Arctic.

This year, they plan to stage a scenario to save a cruise ship.

In an open letter, members of the citizen’s group, Iqalummiut for Action, said there's no need for a hypothetical exercise when a real emergency exists.

“A mock cruise ship exercise, though that’s something that could possibly may be needed in the future, this right now is a crisis in a lot of people’s minds and needs to be extinguished now," said Christa Kunuk, a member of the group. 

In the letter, the group asks the military to consider turning “this year’s exercise from a mock rescue to a real operation that will contribute directly to Arctic sovereignty and the well-being of Canada’s Arctic citizens."

City councillor Joanasie Akumalik said the military could lend a much-needed helping hand.

Iqaluit city councillor Joanasie Akumalik says the military has a lot of resources to help with the fire. (CBC)
“With their expertise, knowledge and resources I think they could have doused the fire very quickly,” he said. “I heard about 800 personnel are coming in, so that’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of hands. That’s a lot of muscle.”

The Canadian military has been used in other municipal emergencies such as floods, forest fires and winter storms.

However, Iqaluit City Council will have to make a formal request to the military for assistance.

The city is set to start tackling the fire the week of August 24. They’ve approved spending up to $2.6 million on the operation.

They plan to ask the military to help transporting equipment needed to the landfill area to fight the fire.

At the very least, Iqalummiut for Action hopes the military will pack out its own garbage.

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