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Testing shows high concentrations of fuel in tank at Iqaluit's water treatment plant

·2 min read

IQALUIT — The City of Iqaluit says testing shows a high concentration of fuel in a tank that supplies water to the Nunavut capital.

It says the fuel could be diesel or kerosene, but that long-term health effects are not a concern.

Residents of the community of 8,000 people were told on Tuesday not to drink tap water after it was discovered it may be contaminated by fuel.

The Nunavut government has been flying in shipments of potable water, while many residents have collected freshwater from a nearby river.

Some residents reported smelling fuel in their water last week, but city officials said regular testing came back clear.

Staff then discovered a holding tank at its water treatment plant that had a strong fuel smell, and the city put out a notice to not drink the water.

Amy Elgersma, chief administrative officer for the city, told a news conference Friday that it's believed fuel from outside the water treatment plant somehow entered the tank.

"It’s important to note that the water quality testing of the treated reservoir located downstream from the water treatment plant showed (fuel) levels well within health limits. So this part is very good news," she said.

The city has isolated and bypassed the tank, she added, and it will be examined when it is empty to try and determine how it was contaminated.

She said the city started flushing its water system Thursday and will continue to do so for 48 more hours. Residents will then be asked to flush the pipes in their homes by running their taps for 20 minutes.

Testing and monitoring is to continue over the next several months, Elgersma said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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