White Pass cancels its herbicide plans

The company was in the process of applying to spray the chemicals in Yukon, but on Friday Environment Yukon was told the application was being withdrawn.

The White Pass and Yukon Route railway has cancelled the plan to spray herbicides along its tracks.

The company was in the process of applying to spray the chemicals in Yukon, but on Friday Environment Yukon was told the application was being withdrawn.

“Following the announcement that the WP & YR was preparing to spray herbicide on the right of way between Skagway and Carcross there has been a great deal of comment and debate about the merits, community concerns, and legality of the proposed program,” company president John Finlayson said in a letter.

The letter, sent to the City of Skagway, the Carcross/Tagish First Nations, Environment Yukon and DBI Services, Finlayson says the project has been suspended indefinitely for the entire right of way.

Calls to the company were not returned in time for today’s deadline.

A spokesperson for Environment Yukon said it received 30 public comments on the herbicide application over the two weeks that it was open for pubic review.

The railway argued the herbicides were necessary to clear weeds away and kill roots that could make the tracks unstable.

In a previous interview, Finlayson said the work was being done at the request of Transport Canada.

In his letter, he wrote that using herbicides was within White Pass’s legal right and that the company still believes the process is safe.

“The initial decision to utilize herbicide to meet these needs was based on the railroad industry standard, which has been proven to alleviate vegetation on both the surface and the sub grade of the roadbed,” the letter states.

The Yukon Conservation Society raised concerns about using herbicides, particularly on the tracks so close to the waters of the Bennett Arm. It also questioned whether the Yukon’s cold temperature would affect the process.

The company had submitted applications to use VisionMax and Arsenal, two herbicides that are potentially toxic to aquatic life.

The active chemical in Visonmax is glyphosate. Glyphosate is currently under review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“We think this is good news for the environment,” YCS’s Lewis Rifkind said Friday. “However, we do recognize that they’re going to have to get rid of those weeds.

Hopefully they can find a less horrible way to do it.”

Finlayson said the company has been “made aware of alternative, non-herbicide related methods that may also meet our goals in a way that is more appreciated by our neighbours.”

The letter provides no details regarded what those methods are or if the railway will still be able to meet its verbal agreement with Transport Canada to have the weeds removed by the end of the year.

“As a community member we would be remiss if we did not examine and test these methods in a attempt to find a solution more acceptable to all involved,” it said.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

YG releases ‘ambitious’ plan to combat climate change

It calls for lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030

CPAWS Yukon ‘disappointed’ controversial writer to give keynote at Yukon Geoscience Forum

Vivian Krause is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the forum on Nov. 16.

PSAC president speaks out about Queen’s Printer, Central Stores situation

‘It’s not good for the Yukon. It’s not good for the taxpayers of the Yukon.’


Wyatt’s World

Poor Creature, Yukonstruct case to be heard in court next month

Yukonstruct is seeking to have The Poor Creature evicted, while café owner arguing to stay

Whitehorse biathlete Nadia Moser earns IBU World Cup spot on Canadian team

Whitehorse’s Nadia Moser will begin the biathlon season at the IBU World… Continue reading

Whitehorse Glacier Bears host swimmers from Inuvik and B.C. at Ryan Downing Memorial Invitational Swim Meet

“Everyone had a good time – it was amazing. It was a really great meet.”

City news, briefly

Some of the decisions made at the Nov. 12 Whitehorse council meeting

Driving with Jens: Yielding is at the heart of defensive driving

If you’re like most people, you probably think about whether you have right-of-way, not yielding

Today’s mailbox: Remembrance Day, highway work

Letters to the editor published Nov. 13

F.H. Collins Warriors beat Vanier Crusaders in Super Volley boys volleyball final

“As long as we can control their big plays to a minimum, we’ll be successful”

Yukonomist: The squirrel, the husky and the rope

The squirrel is political popularity.

Most Read