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View Full Version : Activists distribute Muskrat Falls water bottles outside premier’s speech to demand action on methyl mercury



labradort
06-26-2017, 07:30 PM
http://www.thetelegram.com/news/local/2017/6/21/activists-distribute-muskrat-falls-water-bottles-outside-premier.html

People attending Premier Dwight Ball’s Fortis Energy Exchange keynote speech at the Sheraton (Wednesday) today are being given bottled water with labels that picture the Muskrat Falls dam and read “Muskrat Falls water” and “10 per cent methyl mercury.”

The group giving out the bottles said they are demanding the immediate release of water from the Muskrat Falls reservoir.

In a news release from Solidarity With Labrador, Angus Andersen of Nain, Labrador, who co-ordinated the creation of the bottles, said he is “doing this campaign to make Canadians aware of what our premier is doing to Labradorians.”

The group said last week, Nalcor announced it would not lower water levels at Muskrat Falls until July.

The Labrador Land Protectors, Nunatsiavut and Nunatukavut governments have said that violates the agreement between those governments and Ball made in October.

“I think Premier Ball, who happens to be Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs minister, is ignoring agreements because he has an agenda to complete the (Muskrat Falls) dam at all costs. Even the cost of lives of those living downstream from the project," Andersen said.

There have also been two days of assembly by the Labrador Land Protectors outside the Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

The Land Protectors say they have yet to hear from the premier.

“It is shameful that the premier will take the time to discuss big energy projects in St. John’s while ignoring people at his office in Labrador who are simply asking that he ensure his government’s biggest energy project not poison them,” said Daniel Miller, of the St. John’s-based group Solidarity With Labrador.

The group said bottled water distribution and signs will be set up outside the Sheraton by 11:40 a.m. and will remain there until at least 1 p.m., the group said.

labradort
06-26-2017, 08:04 PM
I have attempted to post a comment on this story, which like almost or all Telegram stories, has 0 comments. No comment was posted after I attempted there. So I'll share my view here.

The claim of natives is the water flowing out of the Churchill river is poison due to the methymercury produced when vegetation rots due to flooding and eventually leaches mercury out of the soil/rock.

If the bottles presented were clean before filling, I would drink it. If someone flew me up to Labrador, I would drink straight out of the Churchill River below Muskrat Falls. I say this with confidence because I already did the equivalent for 13 years with no harm.

What the media will never look at is the living laboratory of Churchill Falls. In the early 70's, thousands of sq km's of land were flooded there, and almost no trees removed, as there was no awareness of the mercury issue back then. The water of most of western Labrador is funneled through this single pathway of the Churchill river. The sole water source for the town of Churchill Falls has been the east forebay of the hydro project. People like me, drank, cooked and bathed in that water for decades. The forebays were once full of trees. Upstream from that, much of the Smallwood Reservoir was once full of trees. So it is a vastly more built up situation for potential of mercury. If the land flooded in Churchill Falls was a bathtub in proportions, Muskrat Falls is a teacup. However mercury is a metal, and is heavy, and stays along the bottom of rivers and lakes. Thousands of people have lived in Churchill Falls, and there has been no epidemic of health problems despite all of this water being consumed, and it being the only source of water. (The town is a company town, everyone hooked to municipal water, no wells exist, no bottled water was available in the 70's)

The only way a person can get mercury in Labrador is by eating from the top of the food chain which comes from these areas. Very large fish or species which live off the bottom like whitefish can have higher than average build up of mercury in their flesh. For the Inuit, they have already been exposed to the similar levels of mercury like anyone eating a lot of tuna. They eat seal, which is a top level food chain concentrator of the mercury naturally found around the world.

Churchill Falls and 47 years history since the flooding there is living proof the claims of the Inuit are exaggerated for political purpose. Yet no media will look at this and question their claims. If you google minimata disease and Churchill Falls, there are no historically based stories, only fear and pandemonium from the present day.

SIR VEYOR
06-27-2017, 06:54 AM
A lot of the protesters seem to be related to the ones that protested the air base establishment back in the day. It might be a bunch of trying to live up to protest takes passed down as they were growing up.

There's not much to do there, and after Nalcor proved that they'll play nice on protest days and shut the gate down, protests are kinda common.

They're trying to grow their wings on this attempt.

Now, there are some conflicting reports on the mercury from both sides, but obvious bias vs impartial seems likely. The project has evolved into a boondoggle even without the protesters.

But the remaining organic removal (10%?) is the riskiest and most expensive to do. So risk of injury or fatality is considerably higher.

And they wanted to put in a barrier to keep people from floating through the area before they drop the water level. Apparently there's a fatality every year or two from people who couldnt get to the bank even before the project started.

labradort
06-27-2017, 10:53 AM
The "Harvard" researchers were mainly a bunch of 20-somethings adding their name to a paper so they could have something on which to base their Ph. D. They brought the soil samples back to the U.S., added some sort of catalyst to the mixture and claimed it accelerated the natural breakdown so they could see the result of months of decay within 5 days. Science never gets these things wrong, right?

In the words from the PNAS article:


We incubated sediment from two stations and water from seven stations spiked with isotopically labeled inorganic 200 Hg II (96.41% purity) and Me 199 Hg. Enriched Me 199 Hg was prepared from 199 Hg (91.95% purity) obtained from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (38, 39). Analytical methods for sediment were as described in Schartup et al. (40). We spiked water samples stored in 250-mL acid-cleaned glass IChem bottles (Fisher Scientific) with 200 Hg II (∼95 pmol) and Me 199 Hg (∼0.06 pmol). The magnitudes of isotopic spikes were chosen to follow Lehnherr et al. (11). Spiked natural and deionized waters were incubated for 24 h in the dark at 4 °C, followed by acidification with trace-metal-grade HCl (0.5%, Fisher Scientific).

If you have faith that whatever that was is a true model of what happens in nature, then you can believe the study.

Most of the paper examined a naturally occurring phenomena where fresh water meeting sea water causes a major jump in methylmercury found in microorganisms. In fact, the study group was previously looking at any Arctic waters which had natural flooding, which is going to be the case every spring with north running rivers and ice jams at the north end. Then they happened on Lake Melville, found a cause, with funding from the natives, and talk of all this happening in other rivers due to natural flooding went away.

To me one of the red flags in the study was when they claimed the soil samples were from the area to be flooded, and an attached PDF with the map shows sample location marks are all downstream, not upstream, of the dam.

In the PNAS research paper:


Results are from six cores from the planned reservoir area.

While the appendix with map:
http://www.pnas.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1073/pnas.1505541112/-/DCSupplemental/pnas.1505541112.sapp.pdf

(See page 3) shows all sample sites were downstream of Muskrat Falls.

The study thanked the crew of a large boat ("What's Happening") provided by the natives and used in Lake Melville, so this is why the soil samples were all within reach of where the boat could go. But they lied to claim the samples were from areas to be flooded. Fool me once...

Here is a link to the Harvard Gazette story, with a photo of the first author of the paper:

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/09/poison-in-arctic-and-human-cost-of-clean-energy/

Doesn't she look like the subject matter expert one could depend on?

Folks, this is why we are doomed repeatedly by stupid policy founded on "science". The kids who were greatly helped by parents to get their science project up in grade 4 have grown up and are influencing the world.

LB303
06-27-2017, 11:00 AM
So they added mercury to the soil samples and surprise, they found mercury as a result.
Have I got this right?

labradort
06-27-2017, 11:03 AM
So they added mercury to the soil samples and surprise, they found mercury as a result.
Have I got this right?

That would be a lay person's read of it, but I wouldn't know if they have described how Tang is made. Is there a chemist in the house?

But I do know how to read a map.

LB303
06-27-2017, 11:13 AM
Sorry if I was channelling Captain Obvious, but as a deflection, that's kind of the level of awareness that we gunnies face when discussing our issues with the average joe.
I think if these researchers want sympathy for their cause, they'll need to make it understandable for people like me, or there will never be any pressure on the pols to do the right thing.

labradort
06-27-2017, 02:31 PM
Sorry if I was channelling Captain Obvious, but as a deflection, that's kind of the level of awareness that we gunnies face when discussing our issues with the average joe.
I think if these researchers want sympathy for their cause, they'll need to make it understandable for people like me, or there will never be any pressure on the pols to do the right thing.

Unfortunately the researchers were only the science, not the story. They didn't do the news, the native people and media did. The native people protested, cited "science", and it was all that made the news stories. Journalists are unaware how flawed the study is, and don't want to "white wash" a news story involving natives. They fear being accused of something like being on the wrong side of a story like the Highway of Tears, or perhaps even Climate Change.

Here is a mainstream news item covering the Harvard Study...

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/harvard-research-hydroelectric-projects-methylmercury-1.2879212

Just how clueless the media is:


Researchers collected soil samples from Lake Melville, and talked to hundreds of people who live in communities upstream from Muskrat Falls. (CBC)


Um, that would be zero communities. There are absolutely no communities upstream of Muskrat Falls. Not even a cluster of 3 homes. Maybe a hunting or fishing cabin. Next community in the sparseness of Labrador is nearly 200 miles away in Churchill Falls.

SIR VEYOR
06-28-2017, 08:02 AM
Well, there's Gull Island? Where the locals hold the Innu version of a pow wow isn't there?

And some worker camps have been in two spots for a few years now. But I can't see them giving Harvard useful information either.

labradort
06-28-2017, 05:06 PM
Well, there's Gull Island? Where the locals hold the Innu version of a pow wow isn't there?

And some worker camps have been in two spots for a few years now. But I can't see them giving Harvard useful information either.

Gull Island is just an island. Look over the area in google maps with terrain (satellite view) on. You won't find much other than some gravel pits and tree lines cleared. It can be hard to understand compared to much of Canada. Labrador isn't Yukon east. It is, as one explorer put it: "the land God gave to Cain". This after he sent men ashore at several spots asking them to find if there was topsoil. The only people one might encounter would be fishing and hunting and the odd prospector. I'm being literal when I say there is no one living there. There isn't even going to be a town by Muskrat Falls when they are done.

SIR VEYOR
06-28-2017, 06:26 PM
Gull Island is just an island. Look over the area in google maps with terrain (satellite view) on. You won't find much other than some gravel pits and tree lines cleared. It can be hard to understand compared to much of Canada. Labrador isn't Yukon east. It is, as one explorer put it: "the land God gave to Cain". This after he sent men ashore at several spots asking them to find if there was topsoil. The only people one might encounter would be fishing and hunting and the odd prospector. I'm being literal when I say there is no one living there. There isn't even going to be a town by Muskrat Falls when they are done.

I've stayed in the camps I was talking about. They were there for workers, not locals.

But not that far from muskrat towards Churchill was an area with a few RV trailers where a yearly pow wow or something was held. I think I was told Gull Island. Never saw anybody there, but apparently people occasionally hung out there.

And after Muskrat wraps up, Goose Bay will shrink a bit, and surge again if something else shows up. Same as Lab city as mine ramps up and down.

The trees are like muskeg areas, the soil is mostly sand. And winter almost never leaves...

labradort
06-29-2017, 07:47 PM
I've stayed in the camps I was talking about. They were there for workers, not locals.

But not that far from muskrat towards Churchill was an area with a few RV trailers where a yearly pow wow or something was held. I think I was told Gull Island. Never saw anybody there, but apparently people occasionally hung out there.

And after Muskrat wraps up, Goose Bay will shrink a bit, and surge again if something else shows up. Same as Lab city as mine ramps up and down.

The trees are like muskeg areas, the soil is mostly sand. And winter almost never leaves...

I wouldn't call a few RVs a community. They were likely not there for more than a week, unless Muskrat Falls contractors live in them while in the area. You can find people doing things by the river, but they are not living there as was implied by the CBC article.

The soil is sandy along the lower Churchill River, but if you get away from the valley of the river, it is metamorphic rock - Canadian Shield like all of northern Quebec and northern Ontario. The only sediment to be found is the odd beach, bog, and deposits of eskers left from the last ice age.