hold your breath

Ignoring the advice of the Yukon Environmental Socio-economic Assessment Board, community leaders and senior governments, the territory is going to continue to burn its garbage. Alternatives are too expensive, said the Yukon government, responding to reco

Ignoring the advice of the Yukon Environmental Socio-economic Assessment Board, community leaders and senior governments, the territory is going to continue to burn its garbage.

Alternatives are too expensive, said the Yukon government, responding to recommendations that it stop burning garbage immediately.

Instead, it will spend the next three years stalling.

That’s too long.

The Yukon has a reputation for cleanliness that is overstated.

The territory’s air is still relatively good – in some places – but Yukoners shouldn’t take it for granted.

Recently, scientists were testing for airborne contaminants, like DDT and chlordane (which has links to breast cancer) near Tagish. They were trying to figure out where the chemicals were coming from.

But they had to abandon the community because the air was too bad.

The Tagish dump burns its garbage. And the air was so brown the researchers couldn’t figure out whether the nasties were coming from Asia or down the road.

So, they were forced to move their study to Little Fox Lake.

Burning garbage releases a lot of really bad stuff into the air.

This toxic smoke that hangs around Yukon communities can make it difficult to breathe. It makes some people’s eyes water. And the stench often lingers for days.

Burning in the Carcross area can be smelled 10 kilometres away at Crag Lake.

Residents of Marsh Lake, Ross River and the Southern Lakes region have all asked to have the practice stopped.

The government has refused. No politician wants to blow money on trash.

So instead, officials will put off any action for three years.

But the government’s math simply focuses on the direct costs of eliminating burning.

There are hidden health and environmental costs to the practice not being considered in the government’s calculations.

Once they are considered, the territory’s decision may not seem as pennywise.

Nothing is free, especially not the air we breathe.

The territory is proceeding under the mistaken belief that this small population cannot pollute the territory’s air.

We know that isn’t the case. All we have to do is study the air around Yukon communities.

It is much more foul than we previously suspected. So foul, researchers have had to move their work to more isolated places.

In light of this, the government’s decision to reject the advice of the assessment board seems cavalier.

Maybe the Yukon can wait. Maybe we can continue to spew toxins into the air.

Maybe that will save some money.

And maybe no one will develop cancer.

And, then again, maybe someone will.

Fortunately, for the decision makers, that stuff gets left off the ledger. (Richard Mostyn)

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted


Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

Ken Anderson’s Sun and Moon model sculpture sits in the snow as he carves away at the real life sculpture behind Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre for the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous festival in Whitehorse on Feb. 21, 2018. Yukon Rendezvous weekend kicks off today with a series of outdoor, virtual and staged events. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Rendezvous snowpad, live music and fireworks this weekend

A round-up of events taking place for the 2021 Rendezvous weekend

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. The proposed Atlin Hydro Expansion project is moving closer to development with a number of milestones reached by the Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership and Yukon Energy over the last several months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Atlin hydro project progresses

Officials reflect on milestones reached

A woman walks through the greenhouse at the Na-Cho Nyk Dun First Nation Farm. (Facebook)
Na-Cho Nyak Dun farm wins Arctic Inspiration Prize

Funds could be used to open a new abattoir and commercial kitchen

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022