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The Nunatsiavut Government is slamming the province for failing to take action on methylmercury before flooding of the Muskrat Falls reservoir began yesterday.

President Johannes Lampe issued a statement Thursday, saying that a methylmercury “time bomb” is now ticking for residents who rely on the Churchill River and Lake Melville for food.

Nalcor offered three Labrador Indigenous groups $10 million each after the deadline was missed to cap the wetlands. The Innu Nation and NunatuKavut both accepted the money for health and social benefits, but the Nunatsiavut Government has refused to sign the agreement, which it says could be perceived as “hush money.”

“The Nunatsiavut Government will continue to advocate on behalf of Labrador Inuit affected by this terrible tragedy, while ensuring rigorous and appropriate independent monitoring continues in order to identify impacts of the Muskrat Falls project on the Lake Melville ecosystem,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Torngat Mountains MHA Lela Evans accused the Liberal government of squandering a chance to conduct an independent review of the stability of the North Spur before flooding of the reservoir began.

Evans said Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady has recently been warned again that the lack of an independent expert review of the safety of the North Spur at Muskrat Falls puts the entire dam project and thousands of lives at risk.

Hydro engineer Jim Gordon wrote to the minister to remind her of the findings of scientists, whose geotechnical analysis identified a layer of clay that could liquefy and suddenly collapse, providing no warning to residents living down-river from the dam. The scientists say that Nalcor paid for studies which did not investigate the risk of catastrophic failure due to the sliding of the sediment in the soft base layer. Instead Nalcor studies considered only the average strength of all layers.

“We have called repeatedly for an independent ‎panel to examine the stability of the North Spur. A fraction of the $30 million the Premier earmarked but never spent for wetland capping could have been used to conduct an independent review of the stability of the North Spur,” said Evans. “With flooding of the reservoir now starting, it is too late for this review.”

 

Evans said that because of the start of impoundment Wednesday, it is now too late for an independent expert panel to be assembled to review available evidence and report whether additional geotechnical investigation is indicated.

 

“In light of persistent scientific warnings, and with not just billions of dollars but many lives at risk, people living downstream have the right to the additional peace of mind that an independent review would have provided,” Evans said. “The decision of Minister Coady and Premier Ball to ignore these warnings is unconscionable.”

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