Haines Junction trashes waste plan

Haines Junction has scrapped its controversial bid to bring a new waste-management system to town.

Haines Junction has scrapped its controversial bid to bring a new waste-management system to town.

“As a result of the financial analysis, council and I have decided not to pursue the purchase of a batch oxidizing system,” wrote Mayor George Nassiopoulos in a letter to residents Wednesday.

“The economics dictate that we shall continue both the landfill and continue with our commitment to composting, recycling, reuse and reduction of waste.”

Three years ago, the council started to investigate the possibility of purchasing a system that’s touted as a clean option for destroying garbage. It would use a technology called gasification.

Gasification burns garbage at a low heat, with little oxygen. Bits of trash start to vapourize and become gas. That gas is then used to blast the remaining garbage at extremely high temperatures.

This process destroys most dangerous chemicals, according to proponents. What’s left is filtered, leaving an exhaust that’s no worse than what comes out of a truck, said Nassiopoulos.

But residents were not convinced that the system was as green and clean as its supporters suggest. Some called it a glorified incinerator.

One resident argued that the science regarding gasification’s safety was inconclusive, and that tiny particles emitted by the machine could have unknown effects.

“Do we want to be the guinea pigs for this?” asked Dave Weir, while the plan was still on the table.

The reason the plan was trashed, however, came down to finances.

The mayor said that the technology is simply too expensive to be considered a viable option.

A study showed that the project would cost $17 million over 25 years, compared with $6.6 million for a new landfill and $8.6 million for a transfer station.

The council still insists that gasification is the best option, environmentally speaking.

“Based on the expert, independent, and scientifically sound review of the health and emissions data undertaken by Santec, we are content that the gasification of waste using a batch oxidizing system is as safe, or safer, than any other form of ‘true waste’ disposal,” Nassiopoulos wrote.

The major cost for operating a gasification plant is the diesel or propane used for fuel. And those, of course, are subject to fluctuating energy prices.

The plant itself was expected to cost $500,000, and that price had already been earmarked in the territory’s 2012-13 portion of the federal Building Canada Fund.

The territory prioritized Haines Junction’s plans because it has been identified as a regional facility, taking in garbage from Beaver Creek to Champagne, said Wes Wirth, director of operations for Community Services.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at


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

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read