Iqaluit’s dumpcano marks its 2-month anniversary

Smoke continues to spew from Iqaluit's dump two months after city council voted to let it burn.

Officials have a plan to put out the fire, but no money or manpower to execute it

Iqaluit's dump sits on a spit of land in Frobisher Bay in full view of the city of about 7,000. It's been on fire for two months today. (Emily Ridlington/CBC)

Smoke continues to spew from Iqaluit's dump two months after city council voted to let it burn.

That decision was reversed in mid-June and officials now have a plan to put it out, but say they don’t have the money or manpower to put it into action.

"The fire department doesn't have enough workers to commit to putting it out, and the city doesn't have the funds to put it out or to hire more people," says Romeyn Stevenson, Iqaluit's deputy mayor.

"The Government of Nunavut says they don't have the money, and the federal government just seems to have forgotten about us completely. They sent some Environment Ministry officials up for a few days and then said the fumes weren't dangerous, and then we really haven't heard from them since."

The city's fire chief, Luc Grandmaison, presented a plan to douse the fire to city council that would cost at least $4.5 million. It would involve using millions of litres of seawater to soak the smouldering garbage and would take nearly two months to complete.

Pumps to assist in that proposal are en route to Iqaluit from Pangnirtung, further north on Baffin Island, Stevenson said, but there's still no money or manpower to tackle the job.

Yasmine Pepa, spokesperson for Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna, said the territory is providing "administrative and logistic" support to Iqaluit but cautions the town cannot simply go ahead and extinguish the fire.

"The City of Iqaluit must receive all the necessary regulatory approvals, licences, permits, etc., to douse the dump fire with water, prior to accessing the equipment," she said in an email.

"This is critical and their jurisdictional responsibility. It is up to the city to determine the most feasible option to extinguish the fire at the city's dump. ... It is also the city of Iqaluit's jurisdictional responsibility to continue to manage what is considered a controlled fire."

This week, smoke from the dump fire caused the cancellation of planned Parks Day celebrations at Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park.

A Government of Nunavut health advisory also warned women of child-bearing age to limit their exposure to smoke from Iqaluit's ongoing dump fire, because above-standard levels of dioxin in the air could decrease fertility in any boys they might give birth to.

with files from The Canadian Press