We’ve all been warned, “Don’t eat the yellow snow.”

Well in Nuisqut, Alaska the snow is yellow for a whole different reason. One that is even worse than what you were originally thinking.

Nuisqut is a small village, inhabited mostly by Alaskan Natives, on the North Slope of Alaska.  It has a population of a little over 400, and the majority of folks are Native Alaskans, living off of the land according to traditional customs.  

However, oil and gas extraction is not part of that heritage.  

The native village is sandwiched between two ever-expanding oil and gas extraction fields, both of which are suspected to send toxic pollution into the village.  In the winter months, residents routinely report seeing a yellow haze in the air that falls to the ground and turns the snow yellow.  

Unfortunately, yellow snow in Nuiqsut, Alaska is more than just “watch out where the huskies go”; yellow snow is toxic pollution.  

Obviously, no one is eating any snow when the yellow haze falls to the ground, but toxic pollution in native villages is hard to contain when the majority of the population lives off of the land.  Have the caribou ever heard Frank Zappa’s warning?  What about the wolverines and polar bear?  And what effect do those chemicals have on the people when, according to tribal traditions, that meat is consumed?  Not to mention the health impacts when the yellow haze is inhaled or the effect on the ground water.

Maybe this is why it is so important for Global Community Monitor staff to travel all the way to the North Slope of Alaska to train the residents on citizen based monitoring through the Bucket Brigade.

Nuiqsut residents have no intention of shutting down the oil and gas fields.  They just want open lines of communication between themselves and the oil and gas companies.  They want to know when an accident occurs.  They want an emergency plan in place to ensure their children will be safe.  They want to ensure that the air, water and food that their families consume is safe.

So let the Bucket Brigade begin and with hard work, hopefully the residents of Nuiqsut, Alaska will be able to enjoy clean white snow again.

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