2020 Donlin Gold Backhaul Project to Remove E-Waste from Yukon-Kuskokwim Region
Various hazardous materials were collected and removed from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region in 2019 as part of the Donlin Gold Backhaul Project, which is taking place again this year August 24-31.
For the third year in a row, multiple entities and tribes are coming together to assist Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region villages with the removal of harmful e-waste. The goal of this effort is to safely dispose of electronics and other materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
During August 24 through August 31, the barge owned and operated by the Native Village of Napaimute will visit communities along the Kuskokwim River to safely collect e-waste materials, like discarded computers, television sets, old batteries, and more. Other communities will have materials flown to Bethel during the first two weeks of September. Mark Leary and the Native Village of Napaimute were instrumental in the winter backhaul program on the Kuskokwim River ice road.
Tribal administrators in each of the communities have agreed to assist with coordination to ensure e-waste materials are properly packaged and brought to the barge for collection. These items will then be taken to Bethel for storage, repackaging, and shipment to Anchorage for safe disposal.
In recognition of the COVID-19 pandemic and with consultation with each participating community, safety measures have been updated to include social distancing, face masks, and sanitization practices to protect all involved in the program.
“This project is essential to promote the health and safety of our region. This partnership will benefit 10 villages along the Kuskokwim River as well as the coast,” said Rosalie Kalistook, Environmental Project Manager for the Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP).
Prepping for the Donlin Gold Backhaul Project in 2019.
Delta Backhaul Company, a solid waste consulting company, has worked closely with AVCP and Donlin Gold over the past three years to assist with logistics and transportation planning for the Kuskokwim Regional Household Hazardous Waste Backhaul program. The 2019 season consisted of two major backhaul collection events, the first serving seven villages located near Bethel and utilizing the ice roads for transportation to and from the villages. The team traveled to each of the villages selected for the spring program and provided free collection of household hazardous materials and solid waste. The second collection was a summer Bethel community event that provided the same services for participating Bethel residents. Both programs offered door prizes and food to celebrate the diversion of these harmful materials from the local landfills, which resulted in the protection of subsistence resources and clean drinking water. 117,500 pounds of e-waste was collected and shipped to Seattle and Anchorage for recycling or disposal from the two events in 2019.
“Our priority is to help improve the wellbeing and safety of residents in the Y-K area and this program is one of the ways we can contribute to improving the environment for all residing along the Kuskokwim River,” said Kristina Woolston, External Affairs Manager for Donlin Gold.
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The 2020 Donlin Gold Backhaul Project: In it for the Long Haul will be visiting the communities of: Red Devil, Sleetmute, Stony River, Aniak, Crooked Creek, Kwigillingok, Kongiganak, Quinhagak, Eek, Akiak, and Napakiak in addition to a separate collection event to take place in Bethel on September 9. Dates for each community will be dependent on weather.
The 2020 Donlin Gold Backhaul Project would not be possible without its main partners: AVCP, Delta Backhaul, and the Orutsararmiut Native Council. Other community and business partners include:
Akiak Native Community
Aniak Traditional Council
City of Bethel
Crooked Creek Traditional Council
Eek Traditional Council
Kongiganak Traditional Council
Kwigillingok IRA Council
Native Village of Kwinhagak
Native Village of Napakiak
Red Devil Community
Sleetmute Traditional Council
Stony River Traditional Council
Alaska Commercial Company
Alaska Marine Lines
Brice Civil Constructors, Inc.
Native Village of Napaimute
In This Issue
Alaska Problems Require Alaska Solutions
On January 16, a fire destroyed the water plant and washeteria in the southwest Alaska village of Tuluksak. For the village of about 350 people, it was a devastating blow. The water plant was the only source of drinking water in the village, in which the primarily Yup’ik residents lack indoor plumbing and rely on honey buckets, not uncommon in the flat, swampy region.