Army arrives in Iqaluit to set up reverse osmosis water purification

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IQALUIT, Nunavut – The Canadian Armed Forces say its members came to the capital of Nunavut to help with the city’s ongoing water emergency.


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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted on Friday that he had spoken with Nunavut Prime Minister Joe Savikataaq and that the army would be deployed to Iqaluit to coordinate and deliver clean drinking water.

On Saturday night, the military tweeted that there are more than 20 members of the Canadian Armed Forces in Iqaluit installing deployable equipment for reverse osmosis water purification.

Iqaluit’s 8,000 residents have been unable to consume contaminated tap water for nearly two weeks after fuel was found in the samples.

Residents have been collecting water from the city’s Sylvia Grinnell River and collecting free bottled water from distribution sites, and local officials say they are continuing efforts to identify the source of the contamination.


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In a Sunday press release, the city says the investigation to date has pointed to possible hydrocarbon contamination in the soil or groundwater outside the municipal water treatment plant, which it says may have leaked into a storage tank.

“The buried tank containing the high concentrations of pollutants in the Water Treatment Plant has been isolated, pumped for remediation and has been cleaned,” the statement said.

“The affected tank has been successfully bypassed and the water continues to be treated and sent to the City’s distribution system.”

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The system has been emptied, but the city says it will be necessary to do it again and that an order not to use the water remains in force.

Amy Elgersma, the city’s administrative director, said last week that an assessment found no “obvious cracks” in the contaminated tank.


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The territory’s director of public health, Dr. Michael Patterson, said at a news conference Friday that residents can still smell fuel in the water even though the city has overlooked the contaminated tank.

Patterson has said the health risks for residents who drank the city’s tap water are very low.

Sunday’s press release from the city noted that an environmental assessment is underway at the site where contractors will drill for soil and water samples around the treatment plant. He said the next steps depend on the results of the test.

“We will take the direction of our experts on the actions necessary to repair the site,” the statement said.

He also noted that the city installed a “real-time water monitoring station that focuses on detecting and determining the trend of hydrocarbons” on Sunday.

He said the monitoring station “will allow the city to obtain real-time information on hydrocarbon levels.”



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