Open letter to Elaine Taylor, environment minister:
The environmental and health risks associated with the burning of solid waste at our municipal and community solid-waste facilities should concern us all. The smoke resulting from this practice is not merely noxious but highly toxic as well.
To cite a paragraph from the Yukon Conservation Society’s submission to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board: “The Environment Canada report from April 2008, entitled Air Pollutant Emissions, states that open burning at dumps in the Yukon in 2006 released eight tonnes of particulate matter, two tonnes of nitrogen oxides, eight tonnes of volatile organic compounds and 23 tonnes of carbon monoxide.”
The report states that “the emission summaries were compiled in collaboration with the provincial, territorial and regional environmental agencies using the latest emission estimation methodologies, information and statistics. These air pollutant emissions were estimated because no (italics mine) air emissions monitoring was or is done at any solid waste facility in the Yukon.”
In addition, the Yukon Conservation Society says in its excellent submission to the assessment board on your government’s application to continue burning garbage at municipal and community waste disposal facilities, “There is no way to ensure solid waste, special waste or air emission permits are adhered to, nor to ensure waste is being managed by users in a way that will not threaten human or environmental health. Signage and mail-out pamphlets are not enough to ensure the general public disposes of hazardous waste in a way that respects the environment and human health and safety.”
This lack of oversight gives little confidence that the Environment Act or the air emission regulations are being followed. I am therefore requesting that your government request a legal opinion as to whether existing laws are being adhered to in regard to the disposal of solid waste in Yukon.
It is also my understanding that there is virtually no monitoring and no supervision when solid waste is burned at our municipal and community waste disposal facilities. This is a potentially dangerous practice.
Please provide an indication as to why this practice continues and/or when Yukon communities can expect to see this practice stopped.
NDP MLA, Mount Lorne
See more letters page 8.