North Spur landslide stoking fears of Mud Lake, Happy Valley-Goose Bay residents
People living downstream worry landslides could cause dam collapse and more flooding
A weekend landslide on the northeast end of Muskrat Falls' North Spur in Labrador has some residents of Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Mud Lake concerned for their safety and well-being.
On Monday, the Grand Riverkeeper (GRK) and Labrador Land Protector (LLP) groups issued a joint statement condemning Nalcor's response to the landslide at the Muskrat Falls site.
The North Spur sits on the lower Churchill River, and GRK spokesperson Roberta Frampton Benefiel says many living downstream worry if landslides continue, the dam could collapse, leading to widespread flooding.
In a release Sunday, Nalcor said the landslide occurred outside of the area of the North Spur that was stabilized for the construction of the Muskrat Falls dam and that significant work has been done by crews to reinforce the North Spur.
The company also stressed that there is no safety risk as a result of the incident. But Benefiel is not buying Nalcor's statement.
She said this erosion had already been predicted by Swedish scientists Dr. Stig Bernander and Dr. Lennart Elfgren, who have been working with the GRK and LLP.
"For Nalcor to say and for Stan Marshall to say we've had a hundred engineers look at this and they've all said [it's safe] ... well, who pays those engineers?"
"Are they willing to stand by their works when they fail? I suggest they probably wouldn't."
Benefiel doesn't fully trust Nacor's research, and she wants the provincial government to consider the input of her group's researchers.
She'd also like the company to do more reinforcement work on the North Spur.
Mud Lake residents stage motorcade protest
Residents of Mud Lake in particular are on edge, as the landslide triggered concerns that have only grown following last spring's major flood of the community.
Many in town still point fingers at Muskrat Falls as the culprit, despite an independent review determining the Muskrat Falls dam played no role in the flood.
A motorcade of at least 15 vehicles drove through Happy Valley in protest on Monday.
"We held an emergency meeting last night for the [Labrador Land Protectors] membership and people came and panicked," said Denise Cole, a member of the group.
"[They were] saying, 'I want to move out of my home. I want to move away from the community l love because I can't live with this stress anymore.'"
She said the protest was held to rally support for the group's efforts.
Nalcor maintains that landslides along the Churchill River are relatively common, and that they pose no threat to the North Spur or the Muskrat Falls project.
Read the LLP and GRP joint statement below.
With files from Jacob Barker