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Muskrat Falls protest today

Muskrat Falls Construction Site – Powerhouse and Spillway - August 2014
Muskrat Falls Construction Site – Powerhouse and Spillway - August 2014

A poll released Thursday shows support for the Muskrat Falls project in Newfoundland and Labrador has fallen more than 10 per cent in the last year.

A poll released Thursday shows support for the Muskrat Falls project in Newfoundland and Labrador has fallen more than 10 per cent in the last year.

Kirk Lethbridge, one of the organizers of a protest over the project, said the recent announcement by government regarding methylmercury monitoring has made people mad.

“You can see it on social media, you can see it on the street, this has people really upset,” Lethbridge said. “It’s the latest in a long list of problems; we’re getting a lot of concern. The last protest we held was about the gasoline tax but this, the methylmercury issue, has a lot more people pissed off.”

The Friday protest is being held at noon outside the office of Environment Minister Perry Trimper, who is also the MHA for Lake Melville.

“I think a lot of people are seeing this as a betrayal from Minister Trimper,” Lethbridge said. “People are hurt, they expected more. But a lot aren’t surprised as well. We have been let down since this government came into power. It isn’t just Lake Melville, it’s the whole province.”

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He said the announcement by government on Tuesday to monitor the methylmercury levels and compensate people for impacts related to it is essentially ignoring the report given to government by the Nunatsiavut government and Harvard University. That report showed that Lake Melville, downstream from Muskrat Falls at the base of the lower Churchill River, is likely to see significantly increased methylmercury levels in the food chain.

Lethbridge said he thinks the different budget issues that people are upset are all contributing factors in the decline of support for Muskrat Falls.

But the concern over the methylmercury levels in Lake Melville hits it home for the people of the area.

He said the government’s assertation that people will be compensated for high methylmercury levels is meaningless.

“First, good luck proving that it was this project that caused it,” he said, “Secondly, you will be poisoned. You will have poison in your system. A way of life, a heritage that’s centuries old is being spat on and pushed aside. Lake Melville is a large body of water to say that ‘We’re going to sacrifice the seals, the fish, and the human beings. We’re going to sacrifice all of that and ignore a study done by Harvard University.’”

Lethbridge said support for the project and the government will continue to decline, in his opinion.

“Thousands of fish and wildlife will be toxic,” he said. “That alone should make every Newfoundlander and Labradorian upset.”

Evan.careen@tc.tc

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