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Nunatsiavut Government: Auditor General’s investigation into why wetlands weren’t capped in the Muskrat Falls reservoir welcomed news
Nunatsiavut President Johannes Lampe says he’s hopeful an investigation by the Auditor General will reveal the truth behind the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s decision not to cap wetlands in the Muskrat Falls reservoir prior to impoundment.
“We have always maintained that the Province had no intention whatsoever to cap the wetlands, despite setting aside up to $30 million to do so,” says President Lampe. “All we were told is that time simply ran out; that doing the work would have had a negligible impact on methylmercury production in the reservoir and the Lake Melville ecosystem. We have never accepted those claims. We still maintain the work could have been done prior to impoundment, and that the claim suggesting capping would have only prevented just a two per cent rise in methylmercury is unfounded and incorrect.”
The Nunatsiavut Government and its research partners spent many years ensuring that science, traditional Inuit knowledge and the precautionary principle were at the forefront of evidence-based policy and decision making with respect to the potential downstream effects of Muskrat Falls. That peer-reviewed research, which allowed the Nunatsiavut Government to expand its understanding of methylmercury and the potential consequences on the health and wellbeing of Inuit, their culture and a way of life, was all but dismissed by Premier Dwight Ball, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nalcor Energy.
On July 17, at the insistence of the Premier, President Lampe and other Nunatsiavut Government officials met with Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall. During the meeting, Mr. Marshall maintained that time had run out on capping wetlands, although Nalcor had intended to do the work but was unable to get environmental approval from the Province. Mr. Marshall also presented a draft Financial Contribution Agreement that would, if accepted, see $10 million transferred to the Nunatsiavut Government by Nalcor to fund social programs and activities related to the health and well-being of Labrador Inuit. The Nunatsiavut Government refused to sign the agreement.
“We have said all along, that accommodation and compensation are not forms of mitigation. Offering Labrador’s three Indigenous groups a share of this $30 million, in our opinion, is a form of compensation,” notes President Lampe. “That money should have been used for what it was intended – to cap wetlands. We look forward to the results of the Auditor General’s investigation. Hopefully we can finally get some real answers.”
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