Millions to be spent cleaning up hazardous waste in Beau Del, Sahtu


More than 5,000 tonnes of old vehicles, appliances, and other hazardous waste will be taken out of Beaufort Delta and Sahtu communities.

Stockpiles of waste have accumulated in isolated NWT communities, posing a significant risk to the environment. Federal funding has now been secured to start eliminating the build-up.


The NWT government is seeking contractors for the work in the hope that hundreds of scrap vehicles, abandoned appliances, old oil drums and other items can be hauled out before 2027.

The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs is coordinating the clean-up. Jay Boast, a department spokesperson, told Cabin Radio this is the first time Maca has attempted a large-scale project of this nature. Similar projects should begin in other regions later this year.

Scrap awaiting collection in Fort Good Hope
Scrap awaiting collection in Fort Good Hope. Photo: GNWT
A pile of scrap in Aklavik
A pile of scrap in Aklavik. Photo: GNWT

Federal funding will cover 75 percent of the expected cost. Communities are jointly contributing the remaining 25 percent.

Municipal landfills in the Beaufort Delta and Sahtu have “accumulated significant stockpiles of hazardous waste and scrap metal,” a request for proposals issued to contractors states.

In each instance, the document continues, “the hazardous waste poses significant environmental risks to the community and the scrap metal stockpiles have become large to the extent they are preventing further use of the solid waste site.”


Communities involved in the Beaufort Delta are Aklavik, Fort McPherson, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Tsiigehtchic and Ulukhaktok. Sahtu communities taking part are Colville Lake, Fort Good Hope, Norman Wells and Tulita.

A mattress lies on an old vehicle in Colville Lake
A mattress lies on an old vehicle in Colville Lake. Photo: GNWT
Waste in Tulita
Waste in Tulita. Photo: GNWT

Data provided by Maca suggests that in Fort Good Hope alone, some 200 scrapped vehicles need to be removed alongside 150 tonnes of scrap metal and more than 400 old appliances. Colville Lake, with a population of around 150 people, has more than 100 old vehicles and 75 appliances in need of removal.

More than 800 tonnes of waste, including appliances and vehicles, awaits removal in Ulukhaktok. The figure in Sachs Harbour is more than 600 tonnes.

GNWT-issued tables show amounts of waste awaiting collection, in tonnes, in each community.

The work won’t be easy. The cumbersome husks of old vehicles and washing machines may be mixed in with hazardous waste like asbestos, used oil, battery acid and refrigerant gas. In many communities, there are logistical constraints too: there isn’t much heavy equipment with which to manipulate that waste and everything will need to be shipped out by barge.


The Beaufort Delta waste extraction is expected to cost $1.6 million with an expectation that the work is complete by the end of the 2026 barge season. A budget of $850,000 has been set for the Sahtu and a deadline of late 2024 for most of that work, with scrap metal removal taking until 2027.

Appliances in Norman Wells
Appliances in Norman Wells. Photo: GNWT
Vehicles at Tsiigehtchic's dump
Vehicles at Tsiigehtchic’s dump. Photo: GNWT
Waste drums in Sachs Harbour
Waste drums in Sachs Harbour. Photo: GNWT