Nfld. & Labrador

Meeting on Muskrat Falls mercury dispute to go ahead without Nunatsiavut

A meeting to discuss the environmental impacts a proposed dam will have on Lake Melville is going ahead, without participation from the Nunatsiavut government.

Environment and Conservation Minister Perry Trimper hopes Inuit government will reconsider

According to a study by a team from Harvard University, the Muskrat Falls project is having an adverse effect on methyl mercury levels in Lake Melville. (CBC)

A meeting to discuss the environmental impacts a proposed dam will have on Lake Melville is going ahead, without participation from the Nunatsiavut government.

Environment and Conservation Minister Perry Trimper told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning that he wasn't surprised by Nunatsiavut's decision, but said he's disappointed. 

"We are going ahead with the workshop," said Trimper, who is also the MHA for Lake Melville.

"They won't be there physically but their information will be there. The door will still be open to them and I still hope that they will show."

Experts from Nalcor, the Nunatsiavut Government and Harvard University had been asked to meet at the end of the month to discuss research on the impact the Muskrat Falls dam would have on methyl mercury levels.

The Minister of Environment and Conservation, Perry Trimper, hopes the Nunatsiavut government will change its mind and attend next week's workshop. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

Nalcor disagrees with research suggesting mercury levels in the lake could rise anywhere from 25 to 200 per cent as a result of flooding. 

Trimper said the objective of the workshop isn't to negotiate science, but to present all information to parties who haven't attended previous meetings.

Increasing methyl mercury levels in Lake Melville could affect foods such as fish and seal, both of which are eaten by people in Labrador. (CBC)

"How the methyl mercury that will occur when the flooding happens at Muskrat Falls, how that will manifest itself to future levels in the food chain, that's where the debate is," Trimper said. 

"I must say, the Harvard researcher that we spoke with the other day ... absolutely top notch. There's no question in her capabilities. That said, still, there are some aspects of the calculations, that's what we'd like to explore." 

The workshop, which is scheduled to place in St. John's on Tuesday, will be moderated by the Office of Public Engagement will moderate the event.

Representatives from the provincial departments of Environment and Conservation and Health and Community Services will attend, in addition to representatives from  Health Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Trimper said he will consult with the Nunatsiavut government before making his final decision, if he has any questions.

With files from Labrador Morning

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