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Muskrat Falls project ‘won’t proceed’ if it affects human health: environment ninister

Environment Minister Perry Trimper says the Newfoundland and Labrador government will do what’s necessary to make Muskrat Falls right.

In the wake of a marathon meeting with Indigenous leaders from Labrador that lasted nearly 12 hours and ended early Wednesday morning, Trimper said the province is going to listen to the science before making any decisions about Muskrat Falls.

“If the scientists working in third party agree that changes need to be made to this project, we’re saying as a government we’re willing to make those changes,” Trimper told CBC’s On The Go.

The meeting concluded with an agreement to establish an Independent Expert Advisory Committee that will look at ways to reduce possible methylmercury contamination in Lake Melville.

“What we were working through the night with everyone involved was to find the words – find the assurances – that people would be comfortable that this will indeed be an evidence based, science driven exercise,” said Trimper.

Muskrat Falls meeting scrum

Premier Dwight Ball, NunatuKavut Community Council head Todd Russell, Innu Nation Grand Chief Anastasia Qupee and Nunatsiavut President Johannes Lampe participated in a marathon meeting on Muskrat Falls that ended Wednesday morning. (CBC)

Trimper blamed the previous government for how long it took to address the concerns of protesters.

“Shoulda, woulda, coulda. We should have been at this years ago and had that dialogue and had that exploration and had everybody feeling much more comfortable about what was happening here,” he said.

While Trimper said he’s not sure how long independent reviews into Muskrat Falls will take, he believes the government will implement the recommendations that are made. 

“It’ll be very difficult to ignore the direction coming out of this.”

Trimper said the government will not go ahead with the project if it puts people’s health in jeopardy. 

“We will not allow a project to proceed if in its design it is going to end up affecting the human health of [the] people of Lake Melville.”