Nunatsiavut President Johannes Lampe and Lands and Natural Resources Minister Darryl Shiwak met with Premier Dwight Ball, Environment and Climate Change Minister Perry Trimper and Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady on Sept. 26 to discuss clear cutting of the Muskrat Falls reservoir.
“The Premier indicated that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador would not force Nalcor to fully clear the reservoir prior to initial flooding, scheduled to take place this fall,” said Lampe.
The release said the Nunatsiavut Government (NG) maintains that every effort must be made to fully clear the Muskrat Falls reservoir before flooding starts, despite commitments from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to address, as much as possible, concerns over pending increases in methylmercury exposures downstream from the project.
Trimper also issued a release regarding the meeting on Sept. 29, saying the meeting had been productive.
He said they agreed to immediately establish a water quality monitoring program to provide a better understanding of the potential impacts as the initial phase of flooding begins. According to the release, they also agreed in general terms to a role for the NG in monitoring, including the potential for an Independent Expert Advisory Committee on which they would participate and they agreed to further discussions regarding the NG requests for an Impact Management Agreement and for joint decision-making authority over downstream environmental monitoring.
Lampe said NG was disappointed to learn that full clearing would not be carried out before initial flooding, which will comprise 25 per cent of the reservoir, but was pleased the Premier committed to immediately begin the process of examining the feasibility of fully clearing the remaining 75 per cent of the reservoir
“We advised the Premier that our position has not changed, and that the entire reservoir must be fully cleared of trees, vegetation and topsoil before any flooding takes place,” he said.
Trimper said his government inherited the Muskrat Falls project and is contractually and legally obligated to proceed with the project and the initial flooding of the reservoir to 25 metres
“We remain open to further examination of the feasibility of clearing the reservoir from the initial flooding of 25 metres to full flooding 39 metre mark,” he said. “Our government recognizes and appreciates the concerns of the Nunatsiavut Government. We look forward to continuing to work with them on this important matter.”