Nu­natsi­avut says prov­ince is drag­ging feet on Muskrat Falls health concerns

The Labradorian - - Front Page - BY EVAN CAREEN

The Nu­natsi­avut govern­ment is wor­ried that time is run­ning out for the prov­ince to im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions of the In­de­pen­dent Ex­pert Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee to ad­dress health concerns of the Muskrat Falls Project.

Jo­hannes Lampe, pres­i­dent of the Nu­natsi­avut govern­ment (NG), told The Labradorian they have been writ­ing to the prov­ince and are get­ting “lip ser­vice.”

“We’re not get­ting a re­sponse that is sat­is­fac­tory to us,” he said. “It’s dif­fi­cult for the Labrador Inuit to be­lieve the Pre­mier’s com­mit­ment is noth­ing but an empty com­mit­ment.

“They are just in­ten­tion­ally de­lay­ing the re­sponse to the rec­om­men­da­tions to en­sure that there would not enough time to im­ple­ment those rec­om­men­da­tions be­fore they flood the reser­voir.”

The rec­om­men­da­tions Lampe is re­fer­ring to came out of the In­de­pen­dent Ex­pert Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee (IEAC), cre­ated fol­low­ing an agree­ment be­tween area gov­ern­ments at a marathon meet­ing at Con­fed­er­a­tion Build­ing in St. John’s on Oct. 25, 2016.

“In less than two months it will be two years ago they com­mit­ted to estab­lish­ing some­thing that will help to work on the concerns that we have re­gard­ing methylmer­cury en­ter­ing into the wildlife that Labrador Inuit de­pend on,” Lampe said. “So we’re start­ing to be­lieve they are in­ten­tion­ally not go­ing to do any­thing un­til that time runs out.”

The IEAC’s com­mit­tee was com­prised of four vot­ing mem­bers — the Innu Na­tion,

Nu­natsi­avut Govern­ment, Nu­natukavut Com­mu­nity Coun­cil and the Af­fected

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, as well as non­vot­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments and Nal­cor.

The IEAC had four rec­om­men­da­tions, which they re­leased in April of this year. They rec­om­mended a pub­lic in­for­ma­tion cam­paign be un­der­taken, an in­de­pen­dent body over­see the de­sign and im­ple­men­ta­tion of a mon­i­tor­ing pro­gram for the Lower Churchill Project, and the prov­ince, Nal­cor En­ergy, Indige­nous groups and the lo­cal pop­u­la­tions ne­go­ti­ate an Im­pact Se­cu­rity Fund prior to full flood­ing.

The fi­nal rec­om­men­da­tion, which did not achieve con­sen­sus among all vot­ing mem­bers for IEAC, was that Nal­cor En­ergy un­der­take tar­geted re­moval of soil and cap­ping of wet­lands in the fu­ture reser­voir area be­fore im­pound­ment.

The Innu Na­tion is the only vot­ing mem­ber op­posed to the par­tial clear­ing of the reser­voir, cit­ing the fact it’s never been done be­fore. Non-vot­ing mem­bers Nal­cor and the pro­vin­cial govern­ment are also op­posed.

The clear­ing has been es­ti­mated to cost be­tween $409 mil­lion and $742 mil­lion, not in­clud­ing con­tin­gency funds, con­trac­tor risk pre­mi­ums and costs as­so­ci­ated with ad­di­tional project de­lays. The clear­ing could po­ten­tially re­duce methylmer­cury con­tam­i­na­tion in the food chain, which is the big­gest con­cern.

FILE PHOTO

Jo­hannes Lampe, pres­i­dent of the Nu­natsi­avut govern­ment.

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