Baker Lake landfill cleanup one small, important step in reducing tundra footprint

With limited places to dispose of their old tires, broken appliances, empty oil drums and other hazardous waste materials the community of Baker Lake in Nunavut recently found itself with a challenge as their landfill site began to become more and more contaminated. This led them to make a special request of their neighbour, Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank mine.

“Many of our employees live in Baker Lake, so the community is not only our neighbour but a member of our family. And, if cleaning up the landfill site is important to them, it’s important to us. We understand that this work is vital to protecting the fragile environment we all live in,” says Steven Tremblay, General Supervisor of the Energy and Infrastructure (E&I) Department at Meadowbank.

The landfill cleanup took place between July 10th and July 19th.  The project team filled up 53 marine containers (seacans) with waste, including 37 containers holding over 370 tonnes of hazardous waste. The seacans were loaded onto a barge at Baker Lake and shipped south to the Port of Bécancour, Quebec. From there, the containers were transported to authorized recycling and treatment centres – for eventual recycling or use as back-up fuel to generate electricity in thermal power plants.

The sea cans were originally barged up earlier in the summer as part of the annual sealift that brings new equipment and supplies to Meadowbank. Rather than sending them back empty, the seacans did double duty and came home loaded with the landfill “cargo”.

The E&I Department supervised and coordinated all elements of the project – with the help of hazardous materials expert Yvon Beaudoin of Qikiqtaaluk Environmental – and ensured enough seacans were available for the project, all proper “hazmat” paperwork was completed, and all materials were properly inventoried, packaged and shipped.

Frank Tootoo, Chair of the Baker Lake Lands Committee, helped spearhead the project on behalf of the community.  As co-owner of local Inuit business Peter’s Expediting Ltd., his company also lent its support to haul and load the seacans onto the barge.

“Cleaning up the landfill is important to us for many reasons, mainly because our eco-system is so fragile. For me, a key aspect is ensuring our water source remains healthy.

We are unique because our water source, Baker Lake, is right in front of our community and we must ensure our people have safe drinking water. There are so many horror stories across North America of communities struggling with this issue.”

Frank says proactively managing the community’s waste water and landfill needs are a priority for the Lands Committee, particularly because Baker Lake and other Nunavut communities are continuing to grow as economic development in the region expands.

“We are taking a progressive approach to address those issues. We want to reduce our environmental impact even more through reuse and recycling. Agnico Eagle has been a big contributor to advancing our knowledge in this area. They attend our Hamlet meetings and share the technology and innovations they are testing and implementing to reduce their own footprint. Worldwide, I understand the latest innovation businesses are looking at is converting solid waste into a source of energy. That’s amazing and that’s where we want to be – at the forefront of these new ideas.”

Frank adds, “It is clear that Agnico Eagle wants to leave a positive legacy in Nunavut and their contribution can’t be overstated.”  Click here to read the Hamlet Council of Baker Lake’s thank you to Agnico Eagle for the Baker Lake landfill cleanup.


Yvon Beaudoin, Project Manager at Qikiqtaaluk Environmental and an expert in moving hazardous materials, says the project team prepared and shipped:

37 20-foot long marine containers containing hazardous waste including 1,545 205-litre metal drums loaded onto the barge and consisting mainly of: used diesel, used jet fuel, used gasoline, used oil, oily water or hydrocarbons contaminated water, automotive lead batteries, used glycol or anti-freeze, empty propane tanks with residue, used paint;

8 20-foot long marine containers containing used tires;

8 20-foot long marine containers containing scrap metal.