The first task of the Independent Expert Committee (IEC) was to gather and review all available reports, studies and peer-reviewed scientific literature related to the mitigation, monitoring and management of hydroelectric projects for the protection of the health of Indigenous and local populations who consume country foods from an aquatic environment.
You can view this list of references HERE.
After taking a close look at the existing research, the IEC identified some gaps in the literature. These gaps will need to be filled to properly understand the impact of the Muskrat Falls project on human health. To accomplish this, the IEAC has commissioned new studies to assist in achieving its mandate.
Researcher: Dr. Iris Koch, Environmental Sciences Group, Royal Military College of Canada
Summary: On behalf of the IEC, Dr. Koch is conducting an independent statistical analysis of the water monitoring data provided to the IEC by Nalcor through its Aquatic Effects Monitoring Program. She is currently conducting an analysis of data from November 2016 to present, including an independent analysis of field and laboratory variability tests.
Timeline: November-December 2017
Researcher: Dr. Elsie Sunderland, Harvard University
Summary: A study of soil cores from the Lower Churchill Project reservoir area aimed at assessing the relative production of methylmercury from different soil types and under seasonal (“warm” and “cold”) temperature regimes, and to evaluate the effect of soil burning on methylmercury production. The findings will inform decisions regarding possible mitigation measures and provide inputs into modelling that predict the future production and fate of methylmercury once the reservoir is filled.
Timeline: October 2017 to February 2018
Researcher: Dr. Ryan Calder, Duke University
Summary: Dr. Ryan Calder (formerly of Harvard University) developed a detailed predictive model of methylmercury production for the area affected by the Lower Churchill Project (Calder et al. 2016). Dr. Calder will work with the IEC to predict the outcome of different mitigation strategies on methylmercury levels in the Lake Melville food web and people who eat fish and wildlife from Lake Melville. For example, Dr. Calder will predict the effect of removing varying amounts of leaf litter and topsoil on methylmercury production; and the effect of changing methylmercury water concentrations on the amount of methylmercury at the base of the Lake Melville food web.
Timeline: November 2017 to March 2018