Following a meeting with other Indigenous leaders and Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball in St. John’s on Tuesday, the Nunatsiavut Government has agreed to undertake a review of a draft terms of reference for a proposed Muskrat Falls methylmercury health oversight committee.
All parties discussed recommendations of the Independent Expert Advisory Committee (IEAC) on the monitoring, management and mitigation of potential methylmercury impacts of the Muskrat Falls hydro development on the Indigenous and local populations. The IEAC released its recommendations on ways to protect human health in April 2018. One of the key recommendations is that Nalcor Energy undertake targeted removal of soil in the future reservoir area before impoundment.
During the meeting, the Nunatsiavut Government called on the Province to respond to all of the recommendations put forward by the IEAC.
“We have maintained all along that all efforts must be taken to protect the health, rights and way of life of Labrador Inuit who will be impacted by the Muskrat Falls project,” says Nunatsiavut President Johannes Lampe. “The Province’s refusal to act on the IEAC’s recommendations, particularly with respect to clearing of the reservoir, remains a huge concern, as the impending impoundment is only months away. It will be too late to act once the reservoir is flooded.”
All three Indigenous leaders have been asked to provide feedback on the terms of reference with the goal of reaching consensus on a path forward on ways to mitigate health risks associated with potential methylmercury contamination, notes President Lampe.
“At this point we have agreed to review the terms of reference. We are cautiously optimistic consensus can be reached, but fear it may be too late to carry out any meaningful mitigation measures.”