Nalcor Energy to create ‘safety zone’ where protestors allowed
Construction of a dam at Muskrat Falls is one piece of the Muskrat Falls project. The project also includes building a new backbone line for power along much of the province and a power link between the island and Labrador, across the Strait of Belle Isle. - Telegram file photo
Nalcor Energy is going to create an area for people to protest the Lower Churchill development, near the Crown corporation’s construction site at Muskrat Falls.
In a statement issued mid-day today, a spokeswoman for Nalcor said the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador has upheld an injunction, issued last week, prohibiting on-site protests by the NunatuKavut Community Council, council president Todd Russell and “persons unknown.”
“The injunction allows Nalcor to continue its site construction work at Muskrat Falls without interruption,” the spokeswoman stated.
According to the Canadian Press, lawyers the NunatuKavut Community Council have since argued the court order — banning protesters from the site — was too broad, and protestors should be allowed to promote their cause by, for example, handing out brochures.
The court order was not lifted. However, the court “accepted Nalcor Energy's proposal to build a ‘safety zone’ for protestors.”
Protestors will not be able to approach vehicles from the protest area.
“Ensuring we operate a safe work environment is the most important thing we can do as a company. It’s a responsibility we take very seriously,” states Gilbert Bennett, Nalcor Energy vice president and lead on the Lower Churchill project.
“We are working tirelessly to ensure safety on the Muskrat Falls site, and that includes the safety of workers and protestors.”
The Telegram has contacted a representative for the NunatuKavut Community Council and is awaiting response.
UPDATE; Speaking for the NunatuKavut Community Council, Russell told The Telegram the idea the protests that preceded the original injunction were unsafe is not true. He said the council will speak to the point at another hearing on the matter — this one in Labrador — set for Nov. 6-7.
Russell said the council did not have representation present when the injunction was first issued and considers this, the initial response by the courts to the council's objections, to be a small victory leading into the November hearings.
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