08 February 2013

Muskrat Mania #nlpoli

Effects on the George River herd

Generally speaking, the proponent’s optimism with respect to the effects of the project on caribou cannot be justified merely by its very selective description of the effects on certain herds.

The George River herd was arbitrarily excluded from the impact study:

“More recently, the GRH has wintered west of the northern end of the Study Area in Central and Southeastern Labrador. Since the Study Area receives inconsistent seasonal use by this herd, any use of the area is likely to be by individuals or small groups rather than thousands of caribou. Due to the limited nature of any likely Project interaction with the GRH, it has not been carried forward in this assessment.” (EIS, p. 12-102)

It is arbitrary to exclude the herd since in its EIS, Nalcor recognized that the herd had recently been present in the study area chosen by the proponent:

“Migratory caribou are typically tundra dwelling and are characterized by their extensive seasonal migrations between winter and calving grounds (Bergerud et al. 2008). Currently, the 15 province recognizes the George River Herd (GRH) as the migratory ecotype. This herd has recently wintered in the vicinity of the Study Area in Labrador (such as observed by the Study Team in the winter of 2009 to 2010).” EIS, p. 10-93

In its addendum to the EIS however, Nalcor makes no mention of the George River herd.

Yet according to the results of an aerial survey conducted jointly by the Quebec Department of Natural Resources and Wildlife (MRNF) and Newfoundland Department of Environment and Conservation, together with the Institut pour la recherche et la surveillance environnementale (of which the Council of the Innu of Ekuanitshit is a member) and the Torngat Wildlife, Plants and Fisheries Secretariat, the George River herd population declined from 74,000 in October 2010 to 27,600 in July 2012.[1]

The Joint Review Panel, which studied Nalcor’s proposed hydroelectric generating facilities at Gull Island and Muskrat Falls, had recommended (7.10) that the proponent “monitor interactions of the George River caribou herd with Project activities and facilities and identify any impacts”: Joint Review Panel Report, p. 31.

It is surprising, to say the least, that given the urgent situation of the George River herd, the proponent could deliberately exclude the potential effects of the transmission lines from the environmental assessment. Nalcor has indicated no intention of monitoring “interactions of the herd” with this phase of the project.

[1] http://www.mrn.gouv.qc.ca/presse/communiques-detail.jsp?id=9880