Abandoned fuel drums on Iqaluit's beach are about to be a thing of the past.
Alex Brisco, environmental compliance manager with the Department of Environment, said the Government of Nunavut, Qikiqtani Inuit Association and City of Iqaluit are teaming up to clean up abandoned fuel drums. - Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Three organizations – the Government of Nunavut, Qikiqtani Inuit Association and City of Iqaluit – are coming together to organize a cleanup starting this week.
"We have a mandate to try to ensure that people clean up any discharges of contaminants or fuel spills that occur, as well as try to prevent fuel spills from happening," said Alex Brisco, environmental compliance manager with the Department of Environment.
"When there are contaminants that are stored indefinitely at the beach and basically abandoned, for us that's an obvious spill or a leak waiting to happen, so we're working with the city and QIA and other players involved to try to prevent the release from happening and getting the waste disposed of properly."
QIA owns a large swath of the beach between the city and the water. That organization's involvement is the continuation of a larger goal of cleaning up the beach from trash and other waste.
The city and GN, each contributing $10,000 to the project, are aiding in the collection and disposal of the fuel, which is starting this week. The goal is for contaminants to be shipped out on the last sealift in October and disposed of in Montreal.
"We live in a maritime community," said Matthew Hamp, public works director for the city. "It's oriented toward the sea. A lot of people boat and go hunting on the ocean. They store fuel near their boats and over time some of that fuel gets stale or it's not usable anymore, but there hasn't been an avenue for people to dispose of it, so it more or less gets stored on the beach. Now we're at a point where we can all work together and identify the ones that aren't usable anymore and help people get them off the beach."
Hamp said QIA took the lead on finding out which barrels were no longer in use.
"The idea was to find out through the community which ones were not being used anymore so they can be cleaned up off the beach," he said.
Brisco estimated there are 50 to 75 derelict barrels due for cleanup.
"There are lots of environmental issues in Nunavut," said Brisco, explaining that the collaboration between parties was a step forward to dealing with those concerns.
"Some of them stem back from a long time ago and some of them are more recent, like the drums on the beach, but sometimes it can be difficult with overlapping jurisdictions.
"There can be, in certain cases, finger pointing and people who aren't necessarily interested in collaborating when they see it as someone else's responsibility. In this case, I think it's been a great example of everyone accepting some responsibility for the challenge and providing whatever resources they can in order to have action on the issue."