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Iqaluit, Nunavut squabble over funds to douse toxic blaze

A fire smoulders at a dump in Iqaluit, Nunavut, on July 16, 2014. Although no flames are visible, the stubborn dump fire has been smouldering since May 20.

HO/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A Nunavut official says a plan to douse Iqaluit's dump fire which has been curling northern nostrils for months has been delayed by the city's attempt to get someone else to pay for it.

"The city has taken the approach that they want somebody else to pay for it and I think they were waiting to see if somebody else would pay for it. For me to say it hasn't delayed it, that wouldn't be accurate at all," said Darren Flynn of the Community and Government Services Department

The fire, dubbed the "dumpcano," has been fouling air with chemicals that include known toxins since May 20.

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City and territorial officials are considering a $2.4-million plan to finally extinguish the blaze. The city has asked for financial aid.

A meeting that was to be held between city, territorial and federal officials on Friday to discuss the plan was cancelled.

The territory then hand-delivered a letter to city officials that pointed out the various options Iqaluit has for financing the fire fight with its own funds.

The city has $7.5-million in unrestricted reserves it could use, the letter says.

Iqaluit officials did not return requests for comment.

The job is expensive because the combustion is smouldering deep within a massive pile of trash about the size of a football field and as much as four storeys deep.

Last Thursday, Nunavut's Health Department released air-monitoring figures that suggested levels of most contaminants emitted by the fire remain low.

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