Pessamit files an injunction against Hydro-Québec
Pessamit, June 21st, 2017 – The Pessamit Innu Band Council has filed today an injunction against Hydro-Québec regarding the raising of the Manicouagan Reservoir initiated by the Crown corporation in the spring of 2016.
The Pessamit elected officials only learned of a project to raise the Manicouagan Reservoir to its maximum operating limit in September 2016, while the project had started a few months earlier. The project will bring the reservoir to a level that hasn’t been reached since the early 1980s, i.e. 359.66 meters, while it has never exceeded 350 meters. The Band Council’s injunction requests that the Court order Hydro-Québec to cease the raising of the Manicouagan Reservoir and restore the water level below the tidal range upper limit, preserved since 1984. It also requests that the water levels be maintained between these limits.
A Matter of Public Interest
The Pessamit Innu Band Council states that Hydro-Québec does not have any authorization to contaminate the waters of the Manicouagan Reservoir and that it does not have any vested right to pollute it either. Environmental protection is now recognized by Canadian courts as a fundamental value. In fact, Fisheries and Oceans Canada have initiated an investigation under the Fisheries Act into this matter. It is indisputable that the raising of the water levels will damage the fauna, flora and soil, as well as the property and safety of the Pessamiu Ilnut who circulate near the reservoir and its surroundings. They are entitled, like all Quebec citizens, to the quality of their environment. In the interest of the public, the Band Council is justified in seeking an injunction from the Court to stop Hydro-Québec’s disastrous practices
Protection of the Environment
The raising of the Manicouagan Reservoir’s waters will cause flooding of a regenerated environment over the past four decades, resulting in the death of thousands of hectares of forest bordering the reservoir as well as many wildlife species. It will also destroy the spawning grounds of various species of fish. Furthermore, the project will lead to the release of methyl mercury, a harmful substance known to be concentrated at every level of the food chain, at the top of which we find the Pessamiu Ilnut. Hydro-Québec, which has itself carried out studies on this phenomenon, is well aware of the consequences of water raising on the environment. Finally, the project will also result in the flooding of Innu and non-native camps and will force the relocation of the Uapishka research station.
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