Nfld. & Labrador

Halt Muskrat Falls until contamination concerns addressed, says Nunatsiavut government

The president of Northern Labrador's Nunatsiavut government wants the province to halt the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project until concerns over methylmercury contamination are settled.

President Johannes Lampe says provincial government risking Inuit health, culture and way of life

Nunatsiavut president Johannes Lampe says the Inuit have many fears about the food chain being contaminated by methylmercury from Muskrat Falls. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

The president of northern Labrador's Nunatsiavut government wants the province to halt the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project until concerns over methylmercury contamination are settled.

Johannes Lampe said, in a statement released Friday afternoon by Nunatsiavut, that the Newfoundland and Labrador government "is about to risk the health of hundreds of Labrador Inuit, erode our culture and threaten our way of life."

Lampe also urged Premier Dwight Ball not to "play Russian roulette with the lives of our people," and asked Nalcor Energy to delay flooding the reservoir until it is cleared of trees, vegetation and topsoil.

"The concerns over methylmercury contamination are real, and to proceed with flooding without fully clearing will clearly violate our human and indigenous rights. This project has to be stopped now before it's too late."

The statement says the Nunatsiavut government has explored several options to force the provincial government to direct Nalcor to clear the reservoir, including legal action, rallies and protests, and lobbying the federal government.

"Despite our concerns, those who have the authority to make changes, including the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada, to the scope of the project are not willing to do so, and would rather stand by and allow our people to be poisoned and destroy a way of life," said Lampe. "If this project proceeds without changes, there will never be true reconciliation in this country."