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Letter: Hydro-Québec report could help with further methylmercury study

An aerial photo of Muskrat Falls taken in January 2018. — Photo courtesy of Nalcor Energy.
An aerial photo of Muskrat Falls taken in January 2018. — Photo courtesy of Nalcor Energy.

I would like to comment on the Independent Expert Advisory Committee (IEAC) letter report by Dr. Kenneth Reimer submitted to Minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment, Eddie Joyce on April 10, 2018.

The IEAC report deals with methylmercury contamination of the Muskrat Falls Reservoir after reservoir filling and recommends approaches to dealing with the potential methylmercury health problems to people consuming fish from Lower Churchill River and Lake Melville.

Firstly, I wish to note the high expertise of members of the IEAC group. However, I was surprised to find no references to the experience and very relevant knowledge acquired by Hydro- Québec on the James Bay Project, most importantly their approach to mitigating, monitoring and management of potential methylmercury health problems, involving the full engagement of the Cree Authorities.

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I note the IEAC report Recommendation #5 – Monitoring, recommends a “next” phase of studies.

May I suggest that investigation of the role of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay, be given top priority in this “next’ phase of studies? It could be instructive.

A good starting point would be to obtain a copy of Hydro-Québec’s document: Summary of Knowledge Acquired in Northern Environments from 1970 to 2000. In particular Section 8.2 — Mercury.

This information can be found by googling: Summary of environmental knowledge, Hydro-Québec.

I hope this suggestion will contribute to a satisfactory solution to methylmercury problems following filling of Muskrat Falls Reservoir.

P.C. Helwig, P.Eng

St. John’s



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