Nunatsiavut says province is dragging feet on Muskrat Falls health concerns
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.
Johannes Lampe, president of the Nunatsiavut government.