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There should be targeted clearing of soil and capping of wetlands to mitigate methylmercury contamination downstream of Muskrat Falls, an independent expert advisory committee has recommended.

But the provincial government has not yet decided what it will do, because there was not a consensus among the committee’s members. Nunatsiavut, NunatuKavut and other affected communities voted in favour of soil clearing, but the Innu Nation voted for capping of wetlands only.

The report estimates soil removal could add another $400-$740 million onto the cost of the $12.7-billion Muskrat Falls project.

Environment Minister Eddie Joyce says the Innu Nation’s reservations cannot be ignored, so the government will meet with the chair of the committee and all the groups involved to decide how to proceed. He acknowledged there is some urgency in the matter because further delays will affect the cost of Muskrat Falls.

The independent expert advisory committee was formed after a marathon meeting between Premier Dwight Ball and indigenous groups in 2016. A protest by Labrador Land Protectors had shut down construction at the Muskrat Falls site.

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