Nfld. & Labrador

Happy Valley-Goose Bay mayor wants answers on safety of Muskrat Falls dam

The mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay says if the dam at Muskrat Falls broke, 250 properties and 15 km of road would be affected, with $60 million in damage - and he's accusing Nalcor of ignoring their concerns.

Jamie Snook says town couldn't adequately deal with destruction if dam broke

Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor Jamie Snook, seen in a file photo. (CBC)

The mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay says if the dam at Muskrat Falls broke, 250 properties and 15 km of road would be affected, with $60 million in damage - and he's accusing Nalcor of ignoring their concerns about it.

"There's no doubt in the event of a flood there'd be severe and serious impacts on the whole community," said Jamie Snook in an interview Friday with the Labrador Morning Show. 

Snook said the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay recently did its own analysis, after seeing the draft emergency preparedness plan from Nalcor, to look at the potential impacts to the town and the community of Mud Lake if the dam were to collapse. 

He said the flood zone would include the town water system, wastewater treatment plant, electrical system, the sole road access to the Trans-Labrador Highway, plus property and infrastructure on Mud Lake Road.

According to the mayor, Nalcor has not provided satisfactory answers about what would happen - and what they would do - in an emergency situation.

Snook said the fact that it's a crown corporation is largely to blame for the lack of cooperation between the company, government, and communities. 

"I feel very strongly if this was private industry a lot of this would never be happening. The provincial government would hold a private company to account and our concerns would have to be taken more seriously." 

Image of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric generating facility. (Courtesy Nalcor Energy)

Nalcor is confident the dam will not collapse, but with work progressing and flooding of the reservoir set to start mid-October, Snook said time is running out to create an emergency plan that takes care of the people in the area. 

"As a municipality we don't have the infrastructure or the capacity to deal with the damage that would be caused by an event like this."

"We're the ones that have to live with the impacts and the risk of a project like this," said Snook. 

Snook said he echoes the concerns of the Nunatsiavut government and other stakeholders when it comes to the risk of methylmercury poisoning in fish and wildlife from Muskrat Falls, as outlined in a recent Harvard University study

"It just goes back to the same old point that the municipal level of government needs to be taken a lot more seriously in this province. And we need to be included right from the beginning when projects like this are going to be developed," he said. 

"It shouldn't be that there's this level of frustration, there needs to be more of a spirit of working together on this stuff."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meghan McCabe is a former journalist who worked with CBC News in St. John's.

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