In its haste to clean up a massive sewage spill in Kam Lake, an excavator operated by a Yellowknife contractor plunged through the ice.

Submitted photo
An excavator went through the ice on Kam Lake on Jan. 24 while cleaning up sewage after a pipe burst on Kam Lake Road.
(Jan. 24, 2018)

There were no injuries when the backhoe went through the ice and into about five feet of water on Wednesday, stated city spokesperson Richard McIntosh in an email yesterday.

The city is now waiting for the lake ice to thicken before brings out heavy equipment to clean up sewage that escaped to the water.

Between 1,000 and 2,000 cubic meters of liquid waste – potentially as much as an Olympic-sized swimming pool – flowed out toward Kam Lake after a sewage pipe burst on Kam Lake Road on the morning of Jan. 15.

The liquid waste flowed into to Kam Lake through the drainage channel that runs from Kam Lake Rd. to the water.

Grace Lake is not affected, because water travels from Grace Lake into Kam Lake.

The pipe was repaired by 11 p.m. the day of the break, and the street was blocked off until around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The pipe ruptured near Ron’s Auto, and some nearby properties were affected by the street closure.

It remains unclear what caused the break.

The cleanup of the area is now underway. Frozen sewage slush and contaminated snow trapped in snow berms is being hauled off to the sewage lagoon.

Once the frozen sewage has been trucked away, tests will be done to see if further remediation is needed.

The city may then decide to disinfect the area by spreading lime along the drainage channel.

City officials met with the government of Northwest Territories Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to work out a clean-up plan.

“The city takes all spills very seriously and will continue to work with other levels of government and Kam Lake property owners to ensure there are no lasting effects,” stated Mark Heyck on Tuesday.

City administration is organizing a public meeting on the spill, but a date has yet to be determined.

Residents who believe their property has been affected can call the city at (867) 920-5637.

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