A Labrador group is threatening to step up its campaign against the Muskrat Falls hydro project.

The NunatuKavut Community Council says Nalcor is doing too much construction around the proposed site. 

On Tuesday, council president Todd Russell released photos his group took from a helicopter.

The pictures show road construction, and what Russell calls environmental damage.

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NunatuKavut president Todd Russell. (CBC)

Russell says there shouldn't be that much construction going on.

"The government tells us that there has been no decision made whether to proceed with the Muskrat Falls project," Russell said.

"When you look at these photos somebody has obviously pulled the switch or pressed the button, and said this is full speed ahead."

Russell says his group will soon be taking action — both in the courts and on the land — to block the project.

"Our protests will be civil," he said. "Our action will be non-violent. We will continue, though, to assert ourselves on our own land."

Groundwork for construction

The Crown corporation in charge of Muskrat Falls, Nalcor Energy, says it needs to set the groundwork for construction now.

"If this work weren't completed then we'd be in a position where it would take six to eight months for a contractor to mobilize on site after we'd actually sanctioned the project," said Gilbert Bennett, Nalcor's vice-president for the Lower Churchill project. 

"There's of course a cost and schedule risk associated with that. So we concluded, in consultation with the province, that this would be a prudent course of action."

Bennett says four major things are currently ongoing related to Muskrat Falls:

  • clearing where construction camps will be based;
  • developing road access to the site;
  • a power supply for construction equipment;
  • communications facilities across Labrador.

"It's important for us to have this work completed so that we could have a contractor go on to the site and start major work immediately," Bennett said.

The provincial government expects to make a final decision on whether to green light the project this fall.