This is my opinion about Northern Cross’s Seismic Project 2013-0067, which closed for commenting on the YESAB website last week. The project covers a large piece of ground, located in the traditional territories of some of the First Nations Peoples in the Yukon.
First, I thank the First Nations people for sharing this beautiful country that has made such a profound impact on my own life. In the 1980s, after travelling the Dempster Highway up to the Richardson Mountains, I decided to live here. I love this land and its people dearly.
As for this seismic project, I don’t think it should proceed, because I see no benefits, only difficulties and destruction.
Thousands of test holes are to be dug and more than a few thousands kilometres of cut lines are planned to cross this land. This will destroy habitat and also has the potential of destroying heritage sites.
Habitat destruction will have a negative impact on birds and wildlife, particularly caribou and moose. Caribou are already stressed by climate change, and will be impacted by blasting. Don’t animals matter? This wilderness is their home.
As well, in the plan, heritage sites are to be left undisturbed, but if there are additional sites in this area that are unnoticed, these could be accidentally destroyed by blasting, equipment or cut lines. I was surprised to see only one grave listed on a project map for this area, when in the late 19th and 20th centuries, many people died in the Yukon during the influenza and measles epidemics.
Another of my concerns is by allowing the project, this action will result in this land being fracked or drilled, and thereby being polluted. There is, of course, a purpose to seismic testing and no company will spend millions of dollars to do testing without the intent of extracting oil and gas from the area! It is unclear to me, even after reading the material presented by YESAB, the plan Northern Cross has for this ground if commercial quantities of gas and oil are discovered.
Water quality will be an issue if fracking or drilling will occur. Fracking procedure creates copious amounts of polluted water. Also this land would take ages to recover from oil spills and maybe never recover.
It is a fact the thawing Arctic is releasing vast quantities of natural methane, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. So the fracking process leaks yet more methane, where the drilling tubes sometimes fracture or will eventually degrade, and in a permafrost area as well!
Oil companies should be reorganizing themselves and investigating other sources of energy, instead of mining the old fossil fuels. Gas is often touted as a “clean energy,” but not if it pollutes groundwater or its extraction creates other problems.
Centuries from now, this area should still be useable for our future generations, should still contain plenty of vigorous wildlife, have healthy, clean rivers, sturdy forests and steppes, and still retain the heritage sites that are even yet to be discovered.