Letter to the Editor

Some treasures cannot be bought I am a student from Whitehorse, attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks and am planning to pursue a degree in…

Some treasures

cannot be bought

I am a student from Whitehorse, attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks and am planning to pursue a degree in environmental sciences.

After reading the article on the Wernecke Winter Road Access Project, I was very shocked.

The Three Rivers watershed is home to many different flora and fauna.

This is one of the few places left in the Yukon where animals may take refuge from the influx of tourists during the summer and other industrial operations.

These watersheds are also involved with the distribution of nutrients throughout the area.

Now one might think that this isn’t a problem, but I, along with many others, have seen how careless many companies have been when considering their ecological impact on the environment.

Some examples might be widening the roads a little more than planned, pushing a little extra soil into the rivers (thereby altering the rivers’ composition), or being careless about waste disposal.

The fact that the company plans to save large amounts of money has me questioning whether or not there will be an adequate number of trained personnel on site to monitor the operations and the access routes.

How will they determine how much fuel has exposed itself to the environment when we are dealing with such combustible fuels as diesel, gasoline and propane?

Under the land-use permit the government has to be able to inspect and determine if the company is committed to follow regulations.

As far as I know, problems of being understaffed and underfunded have been an issue for government inspectors. My suggestion is to use the royalty payments of mining companies to address these problems.

I have seen many companies that store most of the waste ‘off the record’ and transport a small amount out of the area to keep the government happy. This reduces the operation costs for the company and also provides the shareholders with a little extra cash.

Proper inspections, both from the company and government, must also be made to monitor the sites where the uranium is stored.

Uranium has many serious effects on the DNA of all living things by altering certain important proteins, which would result in changes of physical evolution.

Uranium has a half-life of 4.6 billion years, which means that it is very radioactive in the early years.

There are fours types of uranium mining: open pit, underground, leaching and borehole mining.

All of these have a significant impact both on the air (due to rainwater reacting with the uranium) and on the land itself.

Here is an interesting and valid fact, which really implies the importance of protecting these areas.

“Radioactive contamination may also be ingested as the result of eating contaminated plants and animals or drinking contaminated water or milk from exposed animals.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_contamination)

Many First Nations and other hunters who live in the vicinity of these lands rely on the abundance of healthy animals that migrate in and out of the area.

There are also many canoe and kayak enthusiasts who would prefer not to have to ingest potentially harmful water, which would result in the radiation poisoning of many glands including the thyroid (important in maintaining a good immune system).

It has come to my attention that the land-use procedures such as permits, and complete consultations to the First Nation members, have not yet been completed.

To date, this Vancouver-based company has plans to come and potentially destroy a part of the Yukon, which we have been trying to protect for so long and have spent so much time in monitoring the tourism outfitters who travel through.

This is one of the last pristine environments where animals are able to live relatively undisturbed in their habitats.

So why should we let the idea of money make us change our decisions?

People say that money talks, but when there is nothing left to talk over, what worth will money have then?

I believe that companies should invest their hard-earned money into researching new ways of providing renewable energy resources so we can preserve the ecosystems such as the Three Rivers wilderness for later generations to enjoy as well.

Ray Sabo

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Fentie’s financial follies

Just over a year ago, the ukon had a general election.

The Yukon Party won primarily because people felt that times were good and this government was competent and prudent.

There were few, if any, worries that the finances of the territory were not in good hands.

What a difference a year makes.

Arthur Mitchell and the Liberals have brought forth the issue of the $36.5-million investment in ABCPs.

The issue here is not whether we lose $1 million or $10 million. The issue is that this government has put at risk $36.5 million of our money.

If they lose nothing at the end of the day, all we can say is, “you were lucky.”

They should never have gambled with what many in the financial world were calling “junk bonds.”

That is scary and, quite frankly, infuriating!

As I occasionally listen to the legislative proceedings, I keep hearing of major cost overruns on major projects.

The Watson Lake health centre is the last one I recall.

The place is not even near to being finished and the costs are near 100 per cent over budget. This is unbelievable.

I do not recall them, but there were other examples as well.

Now I hear that the finance officials at YTG actually felt compelled to do an audit on themselves on what has the appearance of more financial incompetence.

I do not blame government employees.

They cannot follow polices and procedures they do not have.

That is where leadership comes in and quite frankly this government appears to be almost totally devoid of that.

I can understand why your deputy minister of Justice and ADM are acting the same toward Mike Travill.

There is one person in the legislature who at least appears to have a handle on finances, and that is Arthur Mitchell.

Unfortunately he is not the finance minister, or at least, not yet.

Give the people a chance to correct our error, so we can correct your wrongdoings and patronage.

Robert Bechtel

Whitehorse

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