Stop Methylmercury Poisoning of Indigenous People at Muskrat Falls

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The Trudeau government and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna are supporting the methylmercury poisoning of Indigenous and non-Indigenous People downstream from the Muskrat Falls megadam with a $9.2 billion investment.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government is equally complicit in knowingly proceeding with this dangerous project despite the lethal risks documented by Harvard University.

That poisoning could begin as early as Spring, 2019.

This is morally reprehensible, and it is also illegal.

On April 7, 2017, Canada signed the legally binding Minamata Convention on Mercury to reduce mercury emissions and to protect the environment and human health.

On April 11, 2018, the majority of Independent Expert Advisory Committee members  (tasked with exploring how to mitigate the very clear risk of methylmercury poisoning) called for "targeted removal of soil and capping of wetlands in the future reservoir area before impoundment" at Muskrat Falls.

Almost a full year later, no action to mitigate the risk of methylmercury poisoning has taken place.

The Minamata Convention Canada signed on to is clear in recognizing "the  particular vulnerabilities of Arctic ecosystems and Indigenous communities because of the biomagnification of mercury and contamination of traditional foods, and concerned about indigenous communities more generally with respect to the effects of mercury."

When Catherine McKenna signed the Convention, she said: "Our Government is unwavering in its commitment to safeguard the environment and the health of Canadians from the effects of mercury."

But the federal government is investing $9.2 billion in the Muskrat Falls megaproject, which will, as documented by Harvard University, poison a downstream population (90% Indigenous) with massive spikes in the lethal neurotoxin methylmercury that will bioaccumulate in the traditional country food web. This places Ottawa and the provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador in violation of international law (as well as in violation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which requires the free, prior and informed consent of all directly impacted by such megaprojects).

We are calling on Minister McKenna, Prime Minister Trudeau, and Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball to take this binding convention seriously, and to take all measures necessary to end the well-documented risk of methylmercury poisoning of those downstream of Muskrat Falls.

Under the Minamata Convention, the federal government must withdraw its $9.2 billion in Muskrat Falls unless there is 100% proof that no methylmercury poisoning will occur if the dam goes online. Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball must also halt any further construction of the Muskrat Falls megadam unless he can similarly provide such a bedrock guarantee.

Anything less is complicity in an act of cultural genocide.