The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation has taken over the operation of Old Crow’s dump.
The Yukon government will continue to own the land and equipment, and will continue to pay for the operations.
But the First Nation will do the hiring and be able to direct how the facility is run.
“They’ll play a large role in the operations to have the local service meet the needs of their community,” said Dwayne Muckosky, a director with Yukon’s Department of Community Services.
One change to the facility is that it will now have a gate attendant. A gate was recently installed at the access point, said Muckosky.
“It’s a little restrictive in terms of the public’s access to the site, but that along with having site attendants working there means that whenever community members go to drop off waste, at all times when the gate is open there will be a site attendant there to meet them and provide direction as to how to properly dispose of all the different waste streams.”
It also means more jobs for residents of Old Crow.
A couple of years ago the facility gained a gasifier, which incinerates garbage at a high heat.
“As we understand it, it’s one of the first of its kind in the Far North in Canada. And other northern jurisdictions are paying a lot of attention to it. It’s a very modern piece of equipment for incinerating household garbage, with very tight emissions standards.”
The equipment has been running very well, said Muckosky.
The engineers who constructed the custom-made equipment have been continuously tinkering with it to improve its function, he said. The fuel efficiency has improved dramatically since operations began.
The dump nearly shut down five years ago on the advice of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board.
There were concerns about the proximity of the dump to the Porcupine River and the potential for contamination.
But Yukon government overturned that decision, saying that no alternative existed.
“The solid waste facility is quite close to the river, so we’re very cognizant of the need for monitoring and to pay attention to what’s happening with groundwater dynamics,” said Muckosky.
Groundwater monitoring in the area has begun recently, he said.
“It takes time to build up enough data to really paint a picture of what’s happening, but at this point in time there doesn’t appear to be any cause for concern.”
Earlier this year scrap metal waste from a site near the dump was hauled out from the community on the winter road.
Water monitoring wells are being installed at that site, as well.
Contact Jacqueline Ronson at firstname.lastname@example.org