Sunday, 12 September 2010

Mining waste, car batteries, propane tanks litter northern town dumps: report

Mining waste, car batteries, propane tanks litter northern town dumps: report

OTTAWA - Mining waste and other hazardous material ends up in community dumps across the North, putting people and the environment at risk, a new report says.

A report prepared for Environment Canada this spring found plenty of confusion over who does what when it comes to managing solid waste in Canada's three territories.

And all that head-scratching can lead to local headaches.

Heavy-duty industrial waste from mines was spotted at community garbage dumps across the North — as were hazardous household items such as car batteries, paint cans and propane tanks.

"There are challenges associated with the use of community waste facilities for industrial waste (hazardous and non-hazardous) generated outside community boundaries," the report says.

"Community waste facilities may not be equipped to manage waste of this nature or quantity. An understanding of the flow of industrial waste and impacts to communities could be completed."

But the government apparently knew about this before Arktis Solutions submitted its report in March. Inspection records kept by at least one department and correspondence between northern players detail the dumping.

"Evidence of this activity in the Northwest Territories has been reported within Indian and Northern Affairs Canada's land-use inspections reports," says the Arktis Solutions study.

A spokeswoman for Indian and Northern Affairs says the department tells communities they're not allowed to accept industrial waste, but the territory is responsible for enforcement.

The Canadian Press obtained the report under the Access to Information Act.

The study is based on findings from six communities across the North: the capital cities Iqaluit, Yellowknife and Whitehorse, as well as the smaller towns of Resolute, Nunavut, Hay River, N.W.T., and Teslin, Yukon.

The report raises red flags about toxic trash in town dumps.

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