Recently, BCUOMA’s Director of Consumer Collection & Sustainability, Will Burrows, traveled more than 1,900 kilometres from Vancouver Island to the Tahltan Nation in Telegraph Creek to assist the community in establishing a return collection facility for used oil.
Located in the Regional District of Kitimat–Stikine, Telegraph Creek has a population of 3-600 (depending on the season) and was severely impacted by 2018 Alkali Lake Complex Fire that consumed 121,215 hectares (299,530 acres) and destroyed 21 homes.
When residents were allowed to return, they set to rebuilding the community but were forced to use an open dump site to manage waste due to the impact of the fires and lack of resources. The leaders of the Tahltan Nation knew they needed a better way to manage hazardous materials and had already begun construction on a transfer station and eco-depot before the fire.
In 2019, BCUOMA met with Tahltan Nation members at the Coast Waste Management Association Conference and offered assistance with the collection and recycling of BCUOMA program materials. The pandemic delayed plans for the opening of the depot but in March 2021, the Tahltan Band Council was able to open the new transfer station and eco-depot at Telegraph Creek thanks in large part to support received from Indigenous Service Canada.
Once the eco-depot was established, BCUOMA was invited by our partners at the Indigenous Zero Waste Technical Advisory Group (IZWTAG) to travel to Telegraph Creek and help set up a Return Collection Facility for used oil and other BCUOMA program materials.
On August 9, Will Burrows joined the chair of IZWTAG, Calvin Jameson, onsite to begin the work necessary to ensure materials could be safely collected, stored and managed. The remote nature of this location required that all the tools, equipment and supplies including totes to collect oil, drum and tote top funnels, informational signage, PPE, bags and other safety equipment be brought along on the trip.
Together with the Tahltan Nation staff, the existing seacan was reconfigured and new equipment and signage installed. A handling system was developed to identify materials that had been abandoned onsite and determine suitability for recycling. Large quantities of oil were transferred to environmentally-friendly tanks and pails and jugs of other materials were prepared for transportation and collection by a processor.
Once the site was reconfigured and materials recovered, Will met with the band manager and other community members that generate program materials and provided training on the correct handling procedures for program materials. The Telegraph Creek eco-depot will also receive program materials from other locations in community to ensure they are managed appropriately.
We want to thank the Tahltan Nation Band for inviting BCUOMA to visit your community and work with you to establish a new recycling centre. It was a great honour to work with you and IZWTAG on this project.
For more information on IZWTAG visit izwtag.com.
To find the closest recycling centre near you, visit bcusedoil.com/find-a-recycling-centre.