July 22, 2019. For immediate release
The Nunatsiavut Government is calling on Premier Dwight Ball to immediately direct Nalcor Energy to suspend plans to flood the Muskrat Falls reservoir until mitigation measures are taken to reduce the potential impacts of methylmercury on the Lake Melville ecosystem.
“Our concerns over methylmercury contamination are real and must be addressed before the reservoir is flooded” says the President. “The Premier and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador have done very little to ease our concerns over the potential impacts of Muskrat Falls on our health, culture and way of life.”
On October 26, 2016, following an 11-hour marathon meeting with Labrador’s three Indigenous leaders, the Premier committed to resolving several key issues surrounding the pending flooding of the Muskrat Falls reservoir. All leaders also agreed to establish an Independent Expert Advisory Committee (IEAC) in order to seek an evidence-based approach – utilizing best available science along with Indigenous traditional knowledge – to determine and recommend options for mitigating human health concerns related to methylmercury.
The IEAC, one month after being formally established, issued its first set of recommendations in September 2017. It issued its second set of recommendations on April 10, 2018 – none of which has been responded to publicly by the Premier.
“We have asked the Premier repeatedly to respond to the recommendations,” notes President Lampe. “He has refused to do so, which leads one to believe that there was never any intention to follow through with the commitments that were agreed upon in October 2016.”
Nalcor Energy had budgeted funds to cap wetlands in the Muskrat Falls reservoir in 2018 to reduce methylmercury, but did not get necessary environmental approval from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.
“We were informed that the application was not processed, yet we have not received any reason as to why,” notes President Lampe. “Now we are being told, by both the Premier and Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall, that it is too late to carry out any mitigation measures; that flooding is eminent.”
The Nunatsiavut Government has explored all options, including legal, to try to ensure mitigation measures are carried out before full impoundment of the reservoir, which is scheduled to begin the first week of August.
“We are extremely disappointed with how the Premier has handled the whole Muskrat Falls fiasco,” says President Lampe. “He has repeatedly betrayed our trust by refusing to address our concerns, opting instead to place the health, culture and way of life of Labrador Inuit at risk. In the spirit of reconciliation, we call on the Premier to do the right thing and direct Nalcor not to flood the reservoir until the concerns of Labrador Inuit are meaningfully addressed.”
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