Federal and territorial government departments, Inuvialuit organizations, and other stakeholders have expressed concerns with respect to waste management in both the offshore and onshore Inuvialuit Settlement Region. Improper treatment and disposal of waste from oil and gas activities can have environmental and socio-economic consequences that can contribute to cumulative effects of oil and gas activities in a region. Existing waste management infrastructure and disposal opportunities in the region do not meet current industrial needs and future development activities will exacerbate this problem. As oil and gas exploration and development activities are expected to increase in the Beaufort region in the coming years, it is critical that waste management issues be addressed as soon as possible to avoid delays in regulatory and environmental assessment processes.
Industrial activities (predominately oil and gas industry-related) in the Beaufort region generate various waste streams in substantial quantities, which are different from, but additional to, existing municipal sources of waste. However, overall coordination of treatment and disposal of waste is lacking and there is currently no integrated regional approach to waste management for either the industrial or municipal sectors. Reliance on municipal infrastructure for the disposal of materials from industrial sources is not a reasonable solution to waste management issues from the oil and gas sector, as municipal facilities are not designed, managed, or licensed to accommodate industrial waste streams. As a result of these issues, determining appropriate approaches to management of waste often represents one of the most controversial and time-consuming aspects of environmental assessment and regulatory reviews. Waste management issues may be dealt with more efficiently and effectively through the development of regional approaches, including the development of Regional Waste Management Strategies.
The ultimate goal of the BREA Waste Management Working Group is to facilitate the development of a Regional Waste Management Strategy for the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. The Strategy would clearly map out regulatory requirements and jurisdiction; identify gaps; fully characterize current problems in waste management, and present options for their resolution; provide guidance on best practices; and determine requirements for new or improved waste management processes including the identification of regional economic opportunities in the area of waste management. The Regional Waste Management Strategy will be of significant utility and value to regulators, industry, co-management and environmental assessment and review boards, and other stakeholders. It will serve to expedite the environmental assessment and regulatory review and decision making processes. Additionally, a Regional Waste Management Strategy for the Beaufort region would serve as a model for development of strategies in other regions of the Northwest Territories facing similar issues (e.g. Sahtu region).