Testing water for waste

The Yukon government is throwing more than $4 million into trash this year. Some of that money will be used to drill wells near garbage dumps to monitor the groundwater.

The Yukon government is throwing more than $4 million into trash this year.

Some of that money will be used to drill wells near garbage dumps to monitor the groundwater.

It will also be spent installing spill pallets, used to contain hazardous waste like antifreeze, kerosene and oil.

“We want to ensure better control over special waste,” said Community Services operations and programs manager Wes Wirth. “And we want to ensure we’re not contaminating groundwater.”

By the end of this year, every dump and municipal landfill is expected to have a test well.

“We will be taking samples twice a year,” said Wirth.

Many small, rural dumps are also being turned into transfer stations, he said.

Haines Junction is going to become a regional hub for waste from Silver City and Canyon City.

Besides Haines Junction and Whitehorse, Mayo is another logical site for transferring waste, he added.

“This way you have better control, better management and less environmental damage,” said Wirth.

The transfer stations will also have recycling bins “so we can increase waste diversion,” he said.

Composting is a little more tricky.

“It needs to be managed,” said Wirth. “And some sites don’t have an attendant.”

Still, Wirth is considering testing out compost bins outside Whitehorse, which would then be transferred to the dump.

“We need to handle waste better because a lot of our waste is not garbage – it can be reused and recycled – and we need to focus on waste diversion,” he said.

Ideally, Wirth would like to see all waste diverted.

This would involve a sorting centre at the entrance to every dump.

“You’d drive into the building with a truckload of trash and by the time you got out the other end, there would be nothing left in the truck to throw in the dump,” he said.

“But this is a little ways away.”

Contact Genesee Keevil at gkeevil@yukon-news.com

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