Nfld. & Labrador

Labrador groups want a judicial review of Muskrat Falls dam approval

Two Labrabor aboriginal groups have filed court applications to try to stop the Muskrat Falls project from continuing.

Aboriginal groups claim a planned hydroelectric reservoir will cause unacceptable damage

Two Labrabor aboriginal groups have filed court applications to try to stop the $7.7-billion Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project from continuing.

Both the Nunatsiavut government and the NunatuKavut Community Council have applied for a judge to review the federal fisheries department's decision to allow Newfoundland and Labrador Crown corporation, Nalcor, to create a Muskrat Falls reservoir.

Nunatsiavut, which represents the Inuit of northern Labrador, says it was not adequately consulted on plans to flood the area.

It maintains that Rigolet, at the mouth of Lake Melville, will be harmed by the creation of the reservoir.

"We have always maintained that the Muskrat Falls project, as it is currently structured, will have adverse environmental effects on the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area, negatively impact Inuit health and infringe on Inuit rights and land use," says Nunatsiavut President Sarah Leo, in a news release Aug.8.

NunatuKavut, which represents southern Labrador Métis, says it wasn't consulted either.

"The authorization granted permission to the proponent, Nalcor Energy, to begin work on the dam without proper prior consultation with NCC or accommodation of the Aboriginal rights of the NCC communities, on whose traditional lands this massive destruction will take place," the group said in a news release Aug. 8.

The group also says the hydroelectric project's reservoir will cause an unacceptable amount of damage.

"Traditional lands, wildlife and fish habitat will be destroyed: millions of cubic meters of rock will be removed from the river banks; the river itself will be diverted; vast areas of habitat will be wiped out; known archeological sites will be destroyed; harmful chemicals, including mercury will contaminate the whole ecosystem," says its news release.

In July, Nova Scotia's Utility and Review Board gave conditional approval for a proposed, $1.5-billion subsea cable known as the Maritime Link. The subsea cable is designed to transport electricity from the Muskrat Falls project to Nova Scotia.

Also in July, Hydro-Québec  filed suit in Quebec Superior Court claiming it has rights to the water that would flow through the completed Muskrat Falls generating station.