EASTMAIN-1-A AND RUPERT DIVERSION HYDROPOWER PROJECT
Québec Issues Certificate of Authorization
Québec City, November 24, 2006 — Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks and Deputy Government House Leader Claude Béchard announced that his department has issued a certificate of authorization today to Hydro-Québec for construction of the Eastmain 1 powerhouse and diverting of the Rupert River. The certificate is issued under Chapter II of the Environment Quality Act and Chapter 22 of the Baie-James and Northern Québec Agreement.
“The Québec government has concluded all the steps enabling this major hydroelectric project to be undertaken shortly. The project will be given full go ahead once Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada have issued certificates of authorization further to the Federal Commission’s submission of its final report,” said Minister Béchard. The project will not only ensure a secure supply of renewable energy for Québec but will provide significant economic spinoffs for the Cree, Jamésien community and Québec’s population in general. The project entails an investment in the order of $4 billion and will create the equivalent of 27,000 jobs.
The certificate’s issue is further to the unanimous recommendation in its favour last October 31 by the review committee (COMEX), a bipartite Québec-Cree agency responsible for assessing the environmental and social impacts of projects located on the Baie-James territory. The project’s environmental and social assessment took place as part of the Agreement Concerning the Environmental Assessments of the Eastmain 1-A and Rupert Diversion Project in April 2003 between the Regional Cree Administration, the Québec government and the Canadian federal government. It is under this agreement that public hearings on the directive were held in 2003. A public hearing on the environmental impact assessment was held in 2005 and public hearings were held in 2006 in six Cree communities, Chibougamau and Montréal.
“The government’s authorization includes the 97 recommendations made by COMEX to ensure the project’s integration on the territory while protecting the natural and social environments,” said Minister Béchard.
COMEX carried out an in-depth analysis of the impact assessment produced by the proponent and the answers it gave to close to 400 questions as well as the representations that were made at the hearings. In its report, COMEX considers that the measures planned to eliminate, mitigate and compensate for the project’s environmental impacts are satisfactory and apt to ensure sustainability of the species, the productivity of the ecosystems and the practice of traditional activities by the Cree communities.
Of the 97 recommendations made by COMEX, 14 refer to the design of the installations, 35 to the biophysical environment and 47 to the social environment and security of the installations and people. Finally, one of the conditions refers to follow-up of the cumulative impacts.
Some of the conditions require that the proponent take new approaches. For example, seasonal management of the Rupert River’s instream flow must be adapted in such manner as to prioritize the environment’s productivity, ensuring that it is maintained.
The certificate of authorization issued by the Québec government specifies that Hydro-Québec will work with COMEX to set up a new hearing with the Cree population. This hearing should take place following the construction phase, but prior to start-up.The new hearing will serve to provide the Cree’s point-of-view on the efficiency of the mitigation measures that will have been put in place and on the means that could be considered to prevent residual impacts from the project.
“This project perfectly reflects the Québec government’s sustainable development initiative. Hydroelectricity, like wind power, is a long term solution in the fight against greenhouse gases,” concluded the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks and Deputy Government House Leader Claude Béchard.
The certificate of authorization, COMEX report and information bulletins are available on the Web site of the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs: www.mddefp.gouv.qc.ca.
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