Top News

‘Pressing human rights concern’


Amnesty International has joined the voices concerned about the methylmercury impacts of Muskrat Falls following the release of a Harvard study in recent weeks.

The international human rights organization sent a letter to the leaders of all three provincial parties expressing its concerns.

“Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the potential for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam to cause serious harm to downstream Inuit communities has not been properly dealt with, as required both by Canadian law and international human rights standards,” said the author of the letter, Alex Neve, the secretary general of the English branch of Amnesty International Canada.

Neve said the matter is a pressing human rights concern, referencing the impact the project may have on Lake Melville. He said the lake is crucial to the exercise and enjoyment of Aboriginal rights and other human rights, including the right to culture, the right to health, and the right to livelihood, which are protected under the Canadian Constitution and international human rights law, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The letter references mandatory safeguards to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples set out by the Supreme Court of Canada.

“Complementary standards of protection of Indigenous rights through Indigenous peoples’ participation in decision-making are well-established in international human rights law,” Neve said. “It appears that these standards of protection have not been met in respect to the rights of Inuit communities who rely on the Lake Melville estuary.”

The Harvard study Neve refers to was conducted by the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It says that the projected methylmercury levels are much higher than Nalcor Energy, the utility behind the project, have stated. The study said the levels could rise between 25 to 200 per cent.

“Methylmercury is one of the most dangerous environmental contaminants,” Neve said. “It accumulates in the food chain, reaching higher and higher concentrations in top predators such as large fish and seals. Consumed by humans, mercury can cross the blood-brain barrier, leading to cardiovascular effects in adults, and neurological and cognitive impairment among infants and children.”

Amnesty International is lending its support to the Nunatsiavut government to find ways to mitigate the downstream impacts, not stop the project. These measures include a full clearing of the reservoir before flooding; negotiation of an Impact Management Agreement with the Nunatsiavut government; and significant Inuit participation in high-level environmental monitoring and management decisions.

Evan.careen@tc.tc

 

The international human rights organization sent a letter to the leaders of all three provincial parties expressing its concerns.

“Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the potential for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam to cause serious harm to downstream Inuit communities has not been properly dealt with, as required both by Canadian law and international human rights standards,” said the author of the letter, Alex Neve, the secretary general of the English branch of Amnesty International Canada.

Neve said the matter is a pressing human rights concern, referencing the impact the project may have on Lake Melville. He said the lake is crucial to the exercise and enjoyment of Aboriginal rights and other human rights, including the right to culture, the right to health, and the right to livelihood, which are protected under the Canadian Constitution and international human rights law, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The letter references mandatory safeguards to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples set out by the Supreme Court of Canada.

“Complementary standards of protection of Indigenous rights through Indigenous peoples’ participation in decision-making are well-established in international human rights law,” Neve said. “It appears that these standards of protection have not been met in respect to the rights of Inuit communities who rely on the Lake Melville estuary.”

The Harvard study Neve refers to was conducted by the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It says that the projected methylmercury levels are much higher than Nalcor Energy, the utility behind the project, have stated. The study said the levels could rise between 25 to 200 per cent.

“Methylmercury is one of the most dangerous environmental contaminants,” Neve said. “It accumulates in the food chain, reaching higher and higher concentrations in top predators such as large fish and seals. Consumed by humans, mercury can cross the blood-brain barrier, leading to cardiovascular effects in adults, and neurological and cognitive impairment among infants and children.”

Amnesty International is lending its support to the Nunatsiavut government to find ways to mitigate the downstream impacts, not stop the project. These measures include a full clearing of the reservoir before flooding; negotiation of an Impact Management Agreement with the Nunatsiavut government; and significant Inuit participation in high-level environmental monitoring and management decisions.

Evan.careen@tc.tc

 

Recent Stories