Environment featured

Letter: CBC’s flawed reporting — It was NS Power that killed the fish

Darren Porter is a fisherman and environmental activist.

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – I take issue with the quality of CBC reporting ever since reports of huge gasperau fish kills in the Gasperau River first surfaced. Too often the CBC’s stories simply echo Nova Scotia Power’s spin rather than identify its upstream turbine and flawed protective systems as the real culprit.

CBC’s latest report is no exception. I am not surprised, we have seen far too many of these shitty stories being written by CBC reporters.

Gasperau killed by the NS Power turbine. Photo Darren Porter, Facebook

“A Nova Scotia Power hydroelectricity turbine, shut down after a fish kill several weeks ago, now can’t be restarted because of an unusually large number of fish in the Gaspereau River,” writes reporter Paul Withers.

However, it’s not the unusually large number of fish that’s the problem. The issue is that the systems that are supposed to prevent fish from entering the turbine area are inadequate.

The story also fails to mention that these “fish kills” are a fairly regular event. What was unusual is that local fishermen decided to raise the alarm, rather than try to work things out quietly with NSP.

The second paragraph also contains a factual inaccuracy, as well as a statement by Nova Scotia Power that should not have been left unchallenged .

“The White Rock plant turbine was shut down last month after dozens of dead gaspereau fish were found downstream from the generating station. Nova Scotia Power said they believed the gaspereau were drawn into the turbine when the utility increased the water flow to accommodate the annual Apple Blossom charity rubber duck race.”

First of all, dozens of gasperau is a gross understatement of what actually transpired. The estimated number is over 100,000 dead fish. And that estimate is likely low, but we will never know because Nova Scotia Power did not do a proper mortality monitoring death count, something the fishermen formally asked for two months prior to this kill.

Secondly, as fishermen reported the killing started on the Monday prior to the duck race, with a particularly high number of dead fish on the following Thursday, and then on Sunday, the day of the duck race, it was a full scale massacre. Fish continued to die until Wednesday when Nova Scotia Power shut the generator down.

I find it disturbing how the spin of this story is directed away from the real problem. Don’t blame the high number of fish, and especially don’t blame the duck race, which only serves to create conflict in the community. It wasn’t the duck race that killed those fish, it was Nova Scotia Power and its failed systems.

If you can, please support the Nova Scotia Advocate so that it can continue to cover issues such as poverty, racism, exclusion, workers’ rights and the environment in Nova Scotia. A pay wall is not an option since it would exclude many readers who don’t have any disposable income at all. We rely entirely on one-time donations and a tiny but mighty group of kindhearted monthly sustainers.



  1. Great Job Darren getting the true facts out there. The CBC usually does a good job on most topics but on everything to do with this environmental disaster the CBC seems to be too often taking the word of the Sean Spicer’s and Kellyanne Conway type of Nova Scotia Power in relaying their ‘alternative facts’ to the public. Hopefully the reporters at CBC will come to recognize how they are being played by Nova Scotia power and do more to fact check and ask hard questions in the future.

  2. I would argue that CBC does not always do a very good job reporting. In fact, many times they have the right information and dont use it. I remember a series of reports on the Bay of Fundy and Tidal Energy, that were incorrect and Darren had to fight hard to get the correct information out. As well, one of my neighbors reached out to a reporter on errors he made and he told her he was too busy to fix it.

    I did read just yesterday that at least at the Federal level, CBC was looking to redeem itself in light of reparations to budget cuts experienced during the Harper years. Hopefully, local affiliates are willing to get with that program and start being reporters rather than messengers (for the government and business). Only a few days ago, a few friends and I were placing bets on which CBC employee would be hired in McNeil’s office to hold his jacket.

Comments are closed.