Chevron will clean up any contamination in the Peel: YTG

Yukon environmentalists want the government to force oil giant Chevron to clean up a contaminated site in the Peel Watershed before renewing the company's leases to explore there.

Yukon environmentalists want the government to force oil giant Chevron to clean up a contaminated site in the Peel Watershed before renewing the company’s leases to explore there.

Chevron is reapplying for 525 iron and mica claims along the Crest iron ore deposit in the northeast corner of the watershed. Government reports from the last 15 years reveal that a gravel pad near an airstrip at the site, contaminated with oil, could harm waterfowl and grizzly populations in the area.

“The company has a moral and legal obligation to clean up any contamination it’s responsible for, and the Yukon government has a responsibility to the Yukon public to make them do that before any of the leases are renewed,” said Karen Baltgailis, executive director for the Yukon Conservation Society, in a news release issued Thursday.

Chevron is reapplying for the 21-year leases because they expire in the next couple of years.

A cleanup is required under law, say the conservationists. The Yukon Quartz Mining Act requires compliance with all remediation regulations and laws if a lease is to be renewed.

The gravel pad only sits inside one of the leases, said Jesse Devost, spokesperson for the Yukon’s Energy, Mines and Resources Department.

The Yukon government will require Chevron to clean up the site before giving them their lease, he said.

“The other ones, if they’re in good standing, there’s likely nothing stopping them from being renewed,” he said.

But if push comes to shove, it’s the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs that is responsible for making sure Chevron cleans it up, he said.

During devolution, both the feds and the Yukon split up responsibility for contaminated sites and the Crest fell under Ottawa’s purview.

“It’s polluter pays,” said Line Gagnon, spokesperson for Indian and Northern Affairs.

“Chevron is responsible because they haven’t abandoned it,” she said.

She wouldn’t say whether it was Indian and Northern Affairs’ responsibility to force Chevron to clean the area up should the company refuse. A public servant on the matter wasn’t available by deadline.

But the issue might never get that far.

Currently, the Yukon government is working with Chevron to see what needs to be cleaned up at the site before the lease can be granted, said Bob Holmes, director of mineral resources for Energy, Mines and Resources.

The site has been used by Bonnet Plume Outfitters and they are also involved in the discussion, he said.

“It’s a little bit complicated because the site is 50 years old,” he said.

“It’s just a matter of sitting down and finding a solution and I’m confident that will happen.”

There is not a tight deadline because the leases still have a couple years left to go, he said.

Chevron Canada is waiting for a government inspection of the site to finish at the end the month, said spokesperson Leif Sollid from Calgary.

“Chevron will do any remediation work required, based on the inspector’s report,” said Sollid.

“We will be complying with all laws and regulations,” he said.

The conservation society also asked whether Chevron would give up its claims on the Crest because the Peel Watershed Planning Commission recommended large chunks of the region be protected.

That proposal is under consideration by the Yukon government and several First Nations with traditional territory in the watershed. Once the governments makes a decision, Chevron will decide what to do.

“We’ll then assess the implications for this very significant resource,” he said.

Contact James Munson at

jamesm@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An avalanche warning sigh along the South Klondike Highway. Local avalanche safety instructors say interest in courses has risen during the pandemic as more Yukoners explore socially distanced outdoor activities. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News file)
Backcountry busy: COVID-19 has Yukoners heading for the hills

Stable conditions for avalanches have provided a grace period for backcountry newcomers

Several people enter the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Coast High Country Inn Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Jan. 26. The Yukon government announced on Jan. 25 that residents of Whitehorse, Ibex Valley, Marsh Lake and Mount Lorne areas 65 and older can now receive their vaccines. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Vaccine appointments available in Whitehorse for residents 65+

Yukoners 65 and older living in Whitehorse are now eligible to receive… Continue reading

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read