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Stink uncovered

Kent Driscoll
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (July 18/05) - Iqaluit's past has come to the surface, and it stinks. Workers installing water lines on the street running from Northmart towards the beach uncovered soil that is possibly contaminated.

Workers and residents began to notice a foul smell coming from the trench early last week, about two weeks into the summer-long project.

"We had complaints from the workers to the Workers Compensation Board and at least one complaint from a homeowner," said Brad Sokach, the director of engineering for the city.

"There is some sort of petroleum product in the soil," Sokach said.

Workers are now wearing respirators to filter out the reek. The project will continue as scheduled, and the installation of water mains is expected to be finished at the end of September.

Soil from the dig is being buried on site. Workers are trying to bury the soil at the same depth it was found, to ensure there is no other contamination, according to Sokach.

Water that ends up in the trench is being filtered and pumped to avoid run-off contamination.

The city has sent soil samples for analysis and the results are expected "in a couple of days," Sokach said.

"Historical land use" is to blame in Sokach's opinion. Aerial photos of the site in the 1960s mark it as an industrial area.

One photo shows there was a tent city for stevedores who unloaded the sealifts to support the American military base in the summer.