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McCurdy not convinced methylmercury measures are sufficient

Updated: Dec 3, 2018

NL NDP Leader Earle McCurdy says today’s announcement that the provincial government has accepted Nalcor’s Human Health Risk Assessment Plan for the Muskrat Falls project is not good enough.

“Methylmercury was flagged as a concern in the Joint Panel Review on Muskrat Falls, and we in the NDP have certainly been talking about the issue for almost four and a half years,” McCurdy said.

“Mercury contamination is just one of the many potential enormous financial and environmental consequences of the Muskrat Falls project. The PCs should have resolved the issue before their hasty rush to sanction the project, and I’m disappointed to see the Liberals accept Nalcor’s plan as the best way to move forward.”

Government today accepted Nalcor’s Human Health Risk Assessment Plan, with one addition. Nalcor is required to post warnings and advisories if future monitoring indicates traditional foods such as fish and seals are rendered inedible due to mercury contamination. While the Liberal approach is to add some as-yet-undefined form of compensation in these circumstances, McCurdy says that also is not enough.

“The problem with this,” said McCurdy, “Is that at that point the die is cast. If it turns out that the methylmercury levels are unacceptably high, it is irreversible; indigenous people will be forced to discontinue their traditional diet. This can have adverse effects on their health. How do you compensate for the loss of their traditional, healthy diet?

“The decisions are being made in St. John’s, but the environmental risks are being borne by the people who live near and downstream from the reservoir.”


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