Muskrat Falls and Methylmercury Talk by Trevor Bell

Nature NL April Public Lecture

April 20th, 7:30PM
SN2067, Memorial University
Free parking in Lot 15B by the Music School when the gates are open.

For Nunatsiavut, the downstream impacts of the Muskrat Falls project on their people and homeland are potentially too devastating to leave to chance, or to Nalcor’s speculative calculations. To address this uncertainty, Nunatsiavut initiated the Lake Melville: Our Environment, Our Health project. They assembled a team of independent researchers from Memorial University, the University of Manitoba, and Harvard University to carry out a detailed study of Lake Melville estuary, and most notably the downstream fate of methylmercury—a particularly nasty toxin for humans that is abundantly produced in newly flooded reservoirs.

The results of the methylmercury research led by Harvard University not only substantiate the Joint Review Panel’s scepticism of Nalcor’s claims of “no measurable effects” downstream, they also indicate that under the current Nalcor plan for reservoir clearing, there will likely be significant bioaccumulation of methylmercury in the Lake Melville food web.

Trevor Bell is University Research Professor in Geography at Memorial University. For over three decades he has studied landscape history from a variety of perspectives, including climate change impacts and human-environment interactions. He has played an important role in the ArcticNet NCE, both as project leader and coordinator of the eastern Arctic integrated regional impact assessment. One of these ArcticNet projects, Nunatsiavut Nuluak, co-led with Tom Sheldon, former Director of Environment for the Nunatsiavut Government, focused on Labrador fiords including Lake Melville. Trevor has led the recent development of the SmartICE initiative, which supports safer travel for sea-ice users and shipping in northern coastal regions. SmartICE is a recipient of the 2016 Arctic Inspiration Prize. He is a founding member and co-lead of CACCON, the Circum-Arctic Coastal Communities Knowledge Network.

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