Maintenance led to new water tank contamination, City of Iqaluit says

Incident in mid-December was ‘rapidly mitigated’ after monitoring system detected hydrocarbons, says spokesperson

The City of Iqaluit says that maintenance work in mid-December led to measurable amounts of hydrocarbons being detected in one of its treated water tanks. It says the issue was “rapidly mitigated.” (File photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By Madalyn Howitt

The City of Iqaluit’s new water quality monitoring station detected measurable amounts of hydrocarbons in one of the city’s treated water tanks on Dec. 16, six days after the Government of Nunavut lifted its do-not-drink order.

The city disclosed the incident in a Thursday news release that also outlines its work to ensure municipal water is safe to drink, following an eight-week emergency caused by fuel contamination of the water supply.

City officials concluded that the recent contamination was caused by maintenance work being carried out at the water treatment plant.

“City staff and on-site engineers responded quickly, following the pre-established response plan,” city spokesperson Aleksey Cameron said in the news release. The response involved a brief shutdown of the plant and an inspection followed by localized flushing and monitoring which “rapidly mitigated.”

No detectable levels of hydrocarbons were measured in the distribution system after the response, Cameron said.

The investigation determined that maintenance work caused the water level in a previously unaffected tank to rise to a level “well above the normal water level kept in this tank,” Cameron said.

This revealed a breach in an upper section of the previously unaffected tank, and water from the plant’s process wastewater tank was able to make contact with this compromised section “for a brief time,” Cameron said.

A single tank bypass was deployed to redirect water away from that tank and allow for additional inspection.

The affected tank will remain out of service until permanent remediation and commissioning of the affected tank is complete. An environmental firm is expected this month to complete additional remediation work and to prepare for additional inspection by concrete reservoir specialists.

In a city announcement on Dec. 2, Cameron said that for “the immediate future, the City will continue to release results on a weekly basis with a visual presentation of the results and raw data being released on a bi-weekly basis.”

Test results up to Dec. 16 have so far been published under the city’s Water Facts section of its website.

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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by Reality on

    This is disturbing! It sounds like there’s an incompetence or carelessness problem with maintenance at the water plant, that didn’t get addressed and should have been. Yay that they caught the new contamination quickly this time, but something like this really shouldn’t happen so soon after the previous lengthy and difficult to rectify contamination.

    • Posted by Raven Poo on

      The City has a carelessness problem at all levels, from the Mayor on down.
      What a sh*tshow.

  2. Posted by 20 days? on

    Why had it taken 20 days to tell the public about this?

    • Posted by Redbrew1 on

      It takes about 3 weeks to properly cover your A*S apparently ! Lol

  3. Posted by Negligence! on

    This is starting to get concerning! If this were any other Community in Canada, the council members in a regular session would be asking the Administration WTF is going on?

    Let’s be realistic Council only knows about what Administration tells them. Nowhere on the “Water Facts” timeline until October 12th did the council meet. Why was Council not asking for a special meeting the week before when smells of fuel first were reported by the community?

    When they did meet on October 12th, they went directly in-camera with legal counsel for almost an hour……. when they came out of camera, not a single question was asked to the CAO or staff by any members of Council. Read the minutes here:

    This is concerning. Council is supposed to be the Publics check and balance in open session meetings. Council not questioning Administration in PUBLIC proceedings is not transparent. I hope the GNs full investigation into this looks at the lack of oversight Council has over Administration. If it is demonstrated that they are holding information back from Council, Council needs to take action; otherwise, they are complicit in the negligence that resulted in the water crisis.

  4. Posted by Notadrop on

    Hey City, someone got in touch with you to report a fuel smell in their water on or around this date. Someone from the City came to take a sample after they flushed their pipes, so the test came back negative for hydrocarbons. So you told them to go ahead and drink the water, that there were no hydrocarbons, and they probably felt crazy. Just like last time.

    After putting all this together, did you bother getting in touch with this family to let them know what had been going on and to say they weren’t crazy, that the smell was hydrocarbons?

    I think the City thinks they are being transparent, but it isn’t transparent when you wait 3 weeks to say what happened. I know you have the test results posted, but you know we don’t know what they mean. You still have to tell us when something like this goes on, and you should be doing it immediately, not 3 weeks later.

  5. Posted by pissed off on

    What a gong show!!!!!!!!!!

    The only thing that seems to work properly at the Town is the spin cycle of the people covering up every possible situation by press releases lining up all the empty words that look good from afar.



  6. Posted by What else is new ! on

    Maintenance work caused another issue, that is shocking.
    If we go back to when this all started with the shutdown of the water system on September 30, 2021 to perform maintenance, 4 days after the maintenance work was completed , people starting complaining of the smell of fuel in their water, City reports problem caused by historical fuel leak.

    The Government of Nunavut needs to do a full investigation, including the qualifications of the people in charge of the water system.

  7. Posted by More Details on

    Need more details as to what the maintenance task is and whether there are established procedures doing it. Is there inadequate spill containment or why is there a fuel source near drinking water. Must be some embarrassed workers.

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