Iqaluit declares emergency after gasoline suspected in tap water

WATCH: A state of emergency has been declared in Iqaluit, Nunavut, where there's evidence the community's tap water has been contaminated and residents have been told it's unsafe to drink. As Neetu Garcha reports, that's left nearly 9,000 people scrambling to find clean water.

The City of Iqaluit has declared a local state of emergency after finding evidence of gasoline in its tap water.

All Iqaluit residents are being told not to drink, boil or cook with the city’s water.

A statement issued by the Nunavut government said there is observed evidence of petroleum hydrocarbons, or fuel chemicals, in the water. It also said newborns and infants should not be bathed in tap water.

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Amy Elgersma, chief administrative officer for the city, told a council meeting Tuesday evening that the city is working to fix the issue and tests are being done.

“In this case, we suspect that there is … some type of petroleum product in the water,” Elgersma said.

The city ran tests last week and had said the water was safe to drink after residents complained on social media that their tap water smelled like fuel.

Tap water can still be used for bathing, showering and laundry, Elgersma said.

The city said an emergency water source is available and residents were asked to bring their own jugs.

Photos posted on social media Tuesday showed residents filling up jugs of water at Iqaluit’s Sylvia Grinnell river and buying bottles of water in bulk at the city’s two grocery stores.

The statement from the Nunavut government said tests are ongoing and results are expected back within five business days.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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