Muskrat Falls protesters break injunction on eve of court date
Group is calling for an independent review of the North Spur
Five people broke an existing court order not to enter any part of the Muskrat Falls site on Tuesday afternoon, despite three of them having megaproject-related court appearances scheduled for Wednesday.
About 15 members of the Labrador Land Protectors group gathered outside the North Spur worksite before the five went inside, walking past security trucks that had parked across the dirt road leading to the site.
5 people have gone past security on the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorthSpur?src=hash">#NorthSpur</a> side of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MuskratFalls?src=hash">#MuskratFalls</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbcnl?src=hash">#cbcnl</a> <a href="https://t.co/2boQBsOt0R">pic.twitter.com/2boQBsOt0R</a>—@KatieBreenNL
"If we all sat back, walked away, that would be exactly what Nalcor wants and it would just make everything so easy for them to continue on with what they're doing," said Marjorie Flowers, one of three who is already facing charges but went inside on Tuesday.
"Somebody has to say no, no, no. We're going to take the risk of punishment, discipline by the justice system, or whatever. We've got to."
Looking for independent review
The group is calling for an independent review of the North Spur, maintaining that the sediment it's made of won't hold when the reservoir is fully flooded.
A safety audit looking into the North Spur was released in March by engineering and consulting company Hatch.
Denise Cole is one of the five people who have walked into the <a href="https://twitter.com/NalcorEnergy">@NalcorEnergy</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorthSpur?src=hash">#NorthSpur</a> site. She explains her reasoning: <a href="https://t.co/j271tYwCsu">pic.twitter.com/j271tYwCsu</a>—@KatieBreenNL
It found the project's dam safety management program met or exceeded industry standards.
"We don't believe that that was truly independent," said Denise Cole, another of the five who went inside.
She helped put together a petition with 1,000 signatures asking the province for an independent review.
"We just don't trust what Nalcor has done with their so-called experts. To us, it's been a farce."
Cole led the group inside on Tuesday afternoon, beating a traditional drum and ignoring a posted copy of the existing court injunction forbidding people to trespass onto the site.
"I operate with an Indigenous law and an Indigenous responsibility," she said. "Any trespassing sign, in my opinion, for what I believe and my values, does not apply to me."
A security person handed group members copies of the existing injunction on their way out. They were inside for about half an hour <a href="https://t.co/mQcEqhc5uz">pic.twitter.com/mQcEqhc5uz</a>—@KatieBreenNL
Police drove onto the site behind the protesters but no arrests were made.
A site security person handed the group hard copies of the injunction as they left.
While protests were consistent during the winter, the Labrador Land Protectors group said it will be ramping up its efforts this spring.
Large-scale protests in October drew hundreds of demonstrators and shut down the megaproject for a number of days.
Injunction from large October <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MuskratFalls?src=hash">#MuskratFalls</a> protest is posted on a stop sign pole at the turnoff to the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorthSpur?src=hash">#NorthSpur</a> site <a href="https://t.co/NWlgMqIKJ6">pic.twitter.com/NWlgMqIKJ6</a>—@KatieBreenNL
It came to an end after a deal was struck among the premier and Indigenous leaders that promised, among other things, to release water from the reservoir this spring in order to re-evaluate ways to potentially reduce methylmercury poisoning.
The reservoir has so far not been emptied.
"The numbers are small here today, but it's the spark that will set the fire burning again," said Flowers. "I think the numbers are going to come back."