An open letter to ATCO
In late September the Yukon Utilities Consumers’ Group (UCG) wrote a letter to your administration and to this date have not received a response or reply. You can run but you cannot hide!
You are well aware that your company, which acts as a monopoly for Yukon electricity consumers in the distribution and delivery of our power, has over earned $8.5 million above and beyond the allowed regulatory profits of some $30 million in the past six years. And no doubt you are on the trend of another million or so extra this 2022 untested year. Please justify this to your fellow Yukon citizens.
Since your regulator, the Yukon Utilities Board, as well as the government of the day have totally failed in protecting the interests of electricity ratepayers, it is now entirely up to you as a GOOD corporate citizen to remedy this bullying predicament you have placed yourself into.
Instead of rewarding your shareholders in Calgary, you must now choose to offer these extra earnings back to your firm ratepayers who have no choice but to use you as their service provider.
You are also aware that many Yukoners are suffering economic hardships due to covid and high inflation. These extra energy costs have simply exacerbated this situation.
If you do not do something about this, you will totally lose the confidence of Yukoners and will suffer severe consequences if this injustice is not remedied by Christmas 2022.
Cumulative effects of radiation on Yukon mined land and water
Most Canadian gold and copper mines are extracting the ore from rock formations which also contain low-grade uranium as ‘by-product’. If the uranium is left in tailings after the mine site shut down, and there is no requirement to remove the uranium, the radioactivity in tailings increases over time.
Normally contaminants of concern become less due to a process called ‘dilution’. This is not the case with radioactive particles. Uranium is an unstable element which ‘decays’ into other unstable elements by giving off radiation. Over time, we will see an accumulation of radioactive polonium, lead and other isotopes buried in our tailings. Since they are all decaying on different timelines, the radioactivity will accumulate and increase. This process is called ‘radioactive ingrowth’.
Most tailings in the Yukon are exposed to the weather, and contaminants can make their way into the groundwater. They can be absorbed by fish or taken up by other aquatic life. These minute particles cannot be easily removed during the standard reclamation procedures. We haven’t found any literature claiming that bioreactors or regular water treatment plants remove radioactive particles
Now you may think, “Well, these mine sites are far away from my home.” But how about the old copper mine tailings above the Mt Sima and Wolf Creek subdivisions? Do we have regular assessments of the ground water entering private water wells? Have the Health and Social Services or Environment departments tested the downstream ground or well water? So far, we know due to the Whitehorse Eagle proposal of re-mining the old copper tailings that the mine pit lake has a high uranium content all through the water column.
As the data collected by Yukon Housing reveals Radon gas is highest in Whitehorse subdivisions south of the Whitehorse Copper mine tailings. Radon gas is emanated by Radium 226 which is known as a uranium decay product. It would be interesting to investigate if there is a direct correlation between the old copper tailings and elevated radon gas concentrations in the subdivisions. Since this could impact peoples’ health directly the Department of Environment or Health and Social Services should initiate ground-and well water testing to protect citizens. (References are available)
Donald J Roberts
Chair, Yukoners Concerned
(Ed. Note: The letters contained in this section contain the perspectives of the Yukoners who wrote them. They have not been independently verified by the Yukon News. If you’d like to submit a letter to this section, please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org.)