The Yukon government quietly ended the open burning of garbage in most communities last month.
The exception, for now, is Old Crow. By mid-April, the remote community is expected to have a newfangled gadget, called a gasifer, to burn municipal trash cleanly with few emissions produced.
Other communities which used to burn garbage were turned into transfer stations in early January, said Wes Wirth, manager of programs and operations for Community Services.
That means garbage will be hauled away to regional hubs. Whitehorse and Haines Junction will serve their surrounding communities. A plan for Carmacks to play a similar role was shelved, with Mayo now expected to take its place.
It’s all part of the government’s promise to ban the burning of garbage by the end of 2012. The commitment was prompted by pressure from residents, who complained the practice was putting nasty toxins into the air.
But concerns remain about the Yukon’s municipal dumps, especially in Old Crow. Its landfill is within 50 metres of the Porcupine River and residents fear that chemicals are leaching into the water.
The government plans to drill monitoring wells to see if that’s the case, said Wirth. If it is a problem, it will take further action, he said.
Further work is also needed for handling hazardous waste in outlying communities, said Wirth.
The territory has ordered recycling bins for these communities, too. And an education program is in the works to ensure trash is properly sorted when it is disposed.
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