Welcome to our world

Welcome to our world Some of us living downwind of Yukon's rural dumps find it very interesting that the Environment Department recently shut down a Whitehorse site after residents complained of the "toxic stink" from burning plastic. The workers weren't

Some of us living downwind of Yukon’s rural dumps find it very interesting that the Environment Department recently shut down a Whitehorse site after residents complained of the “toxic stink” from burning plastic.

The workers weren’t allowed to burn those wastes without a “permit.”

Oh yes, the magic “permit” that changes the “bad” burning of plastic that produces extremely toxic emissions into the “authorized” burning of plastic that produces extremely toxic emissions.

Welcome to our world of exposure to toxic chemicals produced by burning garbage at rural Yukon dumps.

Apparently, the magic “permit” makes burning at rural dumps “authorized,” and therefore acceptable. We are speaking of burning preserved and painted wood; television sets and computers; sofas full of foam and synthetic fire retardant fabrics; disposable synthetic diapers and everything in between.

But by having the “permit,” burning it is considered OK.

That permit is really an air freshener. Not! Particularly for the unlucky folks downwind.

According to a Department of Environment official, plastic is not considered a hazardous waste in Yukon.

How about when it is burned?

The Yukon government does not have the capability to monitor for air emissions toxicity produced by burning at their dumps.

What a coincidence, no monitoring equipment, therefore no proof toxic emissions are poisoning our environment.

Presently, the Department of Community Services is touring rural Yukon communities asking for suggestions for solid-waste handling.

This is part of the “study” we have been promised since last August.

One of the options is burning.

The burn vessels currently used at most rural dumps do not burn hot enough to eliminate the toxic emissions, particularly dioxins and furans.

Airborne emissions as well as fly ash produced by the burn vessels contain dioxins and furans that never break down, but do accumulate in humans and animals. This collection of approximately 70 chemicals has been associated with a litany of human health problems, including various cancers.

Oh, and recycling is not one of the options in the “study” because “that is a different department’s responsibility.”

That deflection apparently solves the recycling issue for them.

Apparently, one department can’t work with another to solve our solid waste issues in a holistic way.

Less waste created, less to have to deal with.

Why does the Department of Community Services even consider burning garbage as an option knowing that life-altering, poisonous chemicals spew into our environment and our bodies?

It comes down to a lack of environmental stewardship and responsibility.

It is the same reason why cities/corporations still dump shiploads of toxic garbage in our oceans; because it is cheaper than dealing with the issue in a more responsible way.

Out of sight, out of mind for today, well at least for some people.

Is this how we want our environment and health treated?

Jim Schaefer

Crag Lake

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