Dump smoke sends GN workers rushing home

Federal, municipal and private workers stay on the job


Smoke from Iqaluit’s dump fire caused the closure of schools and Government of Nunavut offices throughout the capital Oct. 12.

The GN did not issue a news release about the closure, but CBC North and local government staffers on Twitter confirmed that employees were sent home.

A government spokesperson later confirmed that the GN’s human resources and community and government services departments decided to shut government offices after receiving complaints from staff.

“They received numerous concerns from staff about the smell in the offices and the GN offices were closed as a precautionary measure,” the spokesperson said.

There was no answer late Oct. 12 when Nunatsiaq News phoned the offices of Isaac Sobol, chief medical officer of health, Daniel Shewchuk, the human resources minister, or Louise Wasson, deputy minister of human resources.

The parking lot at Iqaluit’s public health clinic was empty by mid-afternoon.

City, federal and private sector workers were not advised to go home, nor were children at a playground in a Lower Iqaluit neighbourhood where smoke from the dump hung in the air.

City staff and federal government employees remained on the job and stores in Iqaluit stayed open, despite a lingering smell of smoke from the dump fire.

In late September, Sobol told Nunatsiaq News he believed smoke from the fire “will not be sufficient to result in any significant impact on human health.”

But he said people should seek to avoid exposure to smoke from the fire and people with illnesses like asthma or tuberculosis should avoid physical exertion while outside, and should keep their windows closed.

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