Muskrat Falls protesters gather at Confederation Building, third protest of day
Action wanted on potential environmental, cultural and economic impacts of Muskrat Falls
In a third protest against Muskrat Falls in St. John's on Friday, protesters wheeled a barrel labelled "toxic" up the steps of the Confederation Building and chanted, "not in my backyard."
Roughly 60 people gathered at noon to voice their concerns about methylmercury poisoning from Muskrat Falls.
"Time is running out, and we don't have much time to convince the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nalcor to fully clear cut the reservoir before flooding happens," said Johannes Lampe, president of Nunatsiavut.
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Nalcor said it plans to start flooding the reservoir as early as Oct. 15, despite opposition.
The Nunatsiavut government is calling for removal of all trees, vegetation and soil in the flood area to create a reservoir for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam.
Lampe said Friday's protests in St. John's represent a small portion of the "many concerned people" from across Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Aboriginal groups in other areas.
Shortly before the gathering at the Confederation Building, a handful of angry Muskrat Falls protesters gathered at a press conference with Premier Dwight Ball, MPs, and MHAs at Memorial University.
"Poisoning children is a crime, not on our watch, not our dime," the group chanted shortly after the premier entered a room at MUN to announce funding for the university's Battery facility.
"My God, you're going to kill people," shouted one protester as the group's chant turned to "make Muskrat right," before the doors closed and the conference got underway.
That protest followed one of more than 20 people outside Nalcor Energy in St. John's Friday morning.
Chanting "make Muskrat right" Protesters are blockading the Nalcor Bldg. now <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbcnl?src=hash">#cbcnl</a> <a href="https://t.co/RCRKIhhPTh">pic.twitter.com/RCRKIhhPTh</a>—@CBCMarkQuinn
Coordinated Approach NL organized the demonstrations to "stand with the people of Labrador" and "bring the concerns of the people directly to Nalcor."
The group held a blockade and picket line outside the provincial energy corporation's headquarters after 8 a.m.
Worried about Methylmercury poisoning
Other members of Labrador's Nunatsiavut government also took part in the protests.
"It will have a major impact on our people because there will be methylmercury in our fish and in our seals," said Patricia Kemuksigak, Nunatsiavut government's minister of education and economic development.
"It's our traditional ways and we won't be able to hunt and fish anymore. It's very important for food security, our way of life and our culture."
"We need that food security to keep our families fed and alive, and living in a healthy way," said Lampe.
MUN students support protest
Members of Memorial University's Students' Union said they share the concerns of people in Labrador.
Batt said the province's plan to begin flooding the reservoir in mid-October without removing soil and vegetation is unacceptable.
"We want them to completely clear the reservoir and mitigate the risk of methylmercury poisoning because you can't willingly poison people and then expect to compensate them later," she said.
Demonstrators want action regarding the potential environmental, cultural and economic impacts of the mega-project.