Yukon could learn from B.C.

Since I first saw the postings for oil and gas development in the newspaper, I have felt angry, depressed and disappointed. I wouldn't have expected that to happen in the Yukon.

Since I first saw the postings for oil and gas development in the newspaper, I have felt angry, depressed and disappointed. I wouldn’t have expected that to happen in the Yukon.

I thought we had enough other businesses going on here. People whose countries got invaded from a foreign power must have felt like that. It’s like a declaration of war.

Once the Yukon Party signs the contracts with oil and gas industry in June this year, we will be ruled by these companies. They will soon dominate our everyday lives. Our government will be a traitor. Their information is blurring the vast impact this development will have on the Yukon.

The short time frame is set to prevent the formation of any substantial opposition. If the Yukon Party were really interested in the concerns of its citizens, it would have reacted by now and taken a

load off of our minds and at least postponed the signing date until the majority of Yukoners know more about how it will affect our future.

I didn’t know how vast the oilpatch is around Fort Nelson, B.C., until I was working there during last year’s winter season. At that time, it was already stretching 300 kilometres to the east from Fort Nelson to the Alberta border and it’s growing steadily like a cancer.

These are not tiny spots. There will be a road system set up, like in a big city, covering the whole bush with either permanent or winter roads, which are worse because they have to come in every winter again with heavy equipment to make them. Some roads bear at least the name of the activity that had taken place there before, like Trapper Jack Road, but usually it’s just A44 or B23. There will be vast areas sealed off from the public with security guarding the entrance. There will be big camps, run by some hotel chains, like the Nexon Camp, again with security, where they search the trucks going in and out with sniffer dogs for drugs.

The areas they have in mind for the Yukon are all way too close to residential areas. These areas are our backyard where we enjoy our recreational activities. Do you want to see a breathing apparatus and a sour-gas detector recommended as survival gear, along with bear spray, for future river trips?

I think the people responsible for this upcoming decision don’t know themselves what they are up to.

Government official Ron Sumanik, at the Lake Laberge neighbourhood meeting, used the phrase “we believe” way too often. This is not a question of believe.

For a decision like this, we need facts and there are enough negative ones in the media. In the Feb. 24 edition of the Pipeline News there’s a story about fracking near an operating Alberta oil well. It said this caused the well to blow up and it sprayed oil and chemicals 15 feet into the air and on a farmer’s field.

A Feb. 15 story in the Fort Nelson newspaper had the headline: “Natural Gas Strategy is Business as Usual Despite Environmental Impacts.”

On the same page, another headline: “Interest Expressed in Southern Yukon Oil and Gas Rights.”

Change will come to our society coming with this development. We won’t have enough workers up here to do the job. We have a shortage of workers already. More people will move here and there will be more people on the highways and in the bush.

I would like to invite residents from the Fort Nelson and Fort St. John areas to tell us what their concerns are and how it has affected their lives. Instead of running these ads in the newspaper, I would like to see every household get an informational letter about the proposed development. Lots of people don’t read newspapers.

I got a letter from the government asking me if I had any concerns about an extension of my neighbour’s farm. I would expect something like this for this event too.

How are we prepared for an H2S leak? A single breath will kill you instantly. Every well can turn sour in a blink.

You can’t have a beard when you work in the oilpatch because the gas mask won’t fit tightly enough. So are we all have to shave now carefully every day? How do we protect older people living in these areas in case of a disaster?

We live in an area with tectonic/volcanic activity. Many of our water wells already contain a sulphuric odor so there must already be a connection between an underlying gas field and the water table, so please don’t mess around in this area. There is a good chance that the chemicals used for fracking, although they will be injected in a deeper layer, will come back up in the groundwater.

In signing the contract with the oil and gas industry, the Yukon Party is jeopardizing public safety, destroying rural communities and their quality of life.

We have to try to stop them from doing so.

Ulrich Klausing

Grizzly Valley