July 23, 2019
Premier Ball Says Agreement Reached with Indigenous Groups will See Social and Health Benefits for Communities
The Honourable Dwight Ball, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, says an agreement has been reached with the Innu Nation and NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) that will improve social and health benefits for communities.
The protection of health and the well-being of local residents in Labrador has always been a top priority for government. Upon the direction of Premier Ball, Nalcor Chief Executive Officer Stan Marshall met with three Indigenous groups during the week of July 8, 2019. This included a meeting with the President of the Nunatsiavut Government (NG), Johannes Lampe. The Innu Nation and NCC reached an agreement on July 10, 2019.
With respect to the Muskrat Falls Generation Project Area itself, the Labrador Innu are the only Indigenous people that have a comprehensive land claim Agreement-In-Principle signed by the Federal and Provincial Governments that addresses their Indigenous Constitutional rights in and to that Project Area under the land claim process, including one chapter dedicated to that area.
The Independent Experts Advisory Committee (IEAC) made four recommendations to address concerns related to methylmercury at the Muskrat Falls project which can be found online at www.ieaclabrador.ca . Three achieved consensus agreement among the stakeholders, but the IEAC was not able to achieve consensus with the fourth, regarding the targeted soil removal and wetland capping.
The discussion with the Innu Nation, NCC and NG focused on ways to improve communities with the $30 million originally intended for wetland capping. These funds will directly benefit their communities and will enhance the lives of residents in Labrador.
With respect to progress to date, water monitoring has been in place for almost three years, and has shown that methylmercury levels have at no time presented a risk to public health. The current world class monitoring regime was agreed upon by all parties and applauded by the IEAC for its design. Since then, over 1,300 tests for methylmercury levels in the reservoir, downstream, and in Lake Melville have been conducted. Current levels of methylmercury in Lake Melville are low and many samples were below the detection limit of 0.01 nanograms per litre. This data is regularly updated and shared online at www.mae.gov.nl.ca/methylmercury_mrf.html.
Government agrees with the Indigenous groups on the importance of continued monitoring of methylmercury levels at the Muskrat Falls reservoir, downstream and in Lake Melville.
Engagement with all three Indigenous groups is ongoing as government remains committed to protecting the health of residents of Labrador.
“This agreement is a demonstration of what can be accomplished when we come together to make improvements that benefit residents in Labrador. An agreement that will see positive social and health benefits for Indigenous communities and deepens our commitment to building safe and sustainable communities.”
Honourable Dwight Ball
Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador
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Office of the Premier
2019 07 23 12:35 p.m.