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Protest planned at Muskrat Falls Oct. 3


MUSKRAT FALLS, N.L. - A group of people who want the Muskrat Falls project shut down and Nalcor audited are marching on the North Spur at 1 p.m. Atlantic Time today and they don’t expect to make it home tonight.

The North Spur is located across the river from the Muskrat Falls dam site.

Kirk Lethbridge, one of the organizers of the protest, said they don’t believe the North Spur — a dam which has been the source of controversy since the venture began — will hold once the project gets underway. They believed that before and he said after witnessing it they still believe that to be true.

“We marched all the way in to the spur and looked the river up and the river down,” he said. “It was just heartwrenching. To see that damage to the landscape, it was tough to look at.”

He said they don’t believe the bank, which is underlain with clay and was a concern for Natural Resources Canada when they approved the project at the Joint Review Panel Public Hearing held in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in 2011, will hold and will potentially flood the valley and the municipalities of Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Mud Lake.

When the group had planned the march, they expected to get arrested but managed to make it all the way to the North Spur. Lethbridge said he figures arresting them would draw too much attention and that’s why they were allowed to walk unmolested. He said the protest still got across its point nd drew attention to the issues.

“We want people to wake up and realize it’s not too late to shut this down,” he told TC. “The option, if you live in Happy Valley-Goose Bay or Mud Lake, the option is to lay awake tonight wondering is it tonight? Is it going to bust and come down and drown everybody?”

That issue and the potential methylmercury concern that has been the topic on controversy are their issues with the project, Lethbridge said. The Nunatsiavut Government had called for clearcutting of the reservoir before flooding began to mitigate methylmercury effluent. The provincial government decided to not clear-cut the reservoir for the first 25 per cent of the flooding, slated to start soon, and are looking into options for the remaining 75 per cent.

“Once the flooding starts a way of life that’s existed for thousands of years is going to be destroyed,” he said. “No one is going to be able to eat seal meat or fish form this bay anymore. It’s going to be toxified. That’s not acceptable to us and it shouldn’t be acceptable to anybody. I’d feel the same if they were doing this to any river or valley.”

The other issue they want to draw attention to is a demand for an audit of Nalcor.

“The corporation belongs to the citizens of this province and if we want an audit of our corporation then we should be able to get it,” he said. “A complete audit of Nalcor, I think that’s something we need to get done. A number of people for the island have been fighting for that as well.”

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