2021 Donlin Gold Backhaul Project to remove E-Waste from Yukon-Kuskokwim Region

photo by Greg Lincoln

For the fifth year in a row, multiple entities and tribes are coming together to assist Yukon-Kuskokwim (Y-K) Delta region villages with the removal of hazardous electronic waste. The goal of this effort is to safely dispose of electronics and other materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Beginning August 1 through August 18, the barge owned and operated by the Native Village of Napaimute will visit 17 communities along the Kuskokwim River to safely collect e-waste materials, such as discarded computers, television sets, old batteries and more. Thirteen other communities, including McGrath and Nikolai, will have materials flown to Bethel by Grant Aviation, Ryan Air and Alaska Air Transit.

Tribal staff in each of the communities have agreed to assist with coordination to ensure e-waste materials are safely 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.

After careful consideration of the COVID-19 pandemic and consultation with each participating community, safety measures have been updated to include social distancing, face masks and increased sanitization practices to protect all who are involved in the program.

Delta Backhaul Company, a solid waste consulting company, has worked closely with the Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP) and Donlin Gold over the past four years to assist with logistics and transportation planning for the Kuskokwim Regional Household Hazardous Waste Backhaul program.

Sixty thousand pounds of e-waste was collected and shipped to Seattle and Anchorage for recycling or disposal from the two events in 2020.

“Over the last five years, along with our partners, we have collected and removed nearly 300,000 pounds of waste that would otherwise end up in landfills, in waterways or in areas harmful to families and children. “We are thrilled to be a good neighbor and a partner with a variety of organizations in the Y-K region for the past twenty-five years,” said Kristina Woolston, External Affairs Manager for Donlin Gold.

In addition to a separate collection event taking place in Bethel on August 18, the 2021 Donlin Gold Backhaul Project: In it for the Long Haul will be visiting the communities of Sleetmute, Crooked Creek, Napaimute, Chuathbaluk, Aniak, Kalskag, Lower Kalskag, Tuluksak, Akiak,

Akiachak, Kwethluk, Oscarville, Napaskiak, Napakiak, Atmautluak, Nunapitchuk and Kasigluk.

Dates for each community will be dependent on weather.

The Donlin Gold Backhaul Project would like to thank our 2021 partners:

Alaska Air Transit

Alaska Commercial Company

Alaska Marine Lines

Association of Village Council Presidents

City of Bethel

Delta Backhaul Company

Donlin Gold

Grant Aviation

Napaimute Enterprises, LLC

Northern Air Cargo