CONCORD, NH, Sept. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - A call for help to the American public was launched by Chief René Simon from the Pessamit Innu Band Council and Chief Ghislain Picard of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), during meetings with the media and public presentations in Boston, Concord and Plymouth State University.
Speaking on behalf of the Pessamit Innu community and AFNQL First Nations, Chiefs Simon and Picard denounced the "indefensible privilege" that the Quebec government has granted its subsidiary, Hydro-Québec, to continue the destruction of the Betsiamites River in the name of commercial imperatives, including those of the Quebec-New Hampshire Interconnection Project. With the support of organizations such as the New Hampshire Sierra Club, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and the Appalachian Mountain Club, Chiefs Simon and Picard urged Americans to support them in their efforts to stop the wanton destruction of the Betsiamites River.
According to them, if nothing is done in this regard, salmon productivity in this river will be irreparably compromised by water management procedures associated with the various hydroelectric facilities there. They explained how carrying more than one million kilowatts through New Hampshire, including the famous White Mountains, will have a terminal effect on the degradation of a river far away but still closely linked to New England.
The installation of a Quebec-New Hampshire line would involve the contribution of peaking power stations, used to meet short-term demand peaks. The Bersimis-1 and Bersimis-2 stations, located on the Betsiamites River, are being used for this purpose and we can expect massive exports to the states of New England would require maintaining or even increasing the frequency of flow variations which are already unreasonable1.
According to Chief Simon, "current water management2 of the Betsiamites River has a devastating impact on salmon productivity3. This situation is incompatible with the concept of sustainable development and the underlying principle of precaution. Regarding the Betsiamites River, through Hydro-Québec's approach and Quebec's complacency, Canada's performance stands well below its international commitments 4. "
This "indefensible privilege" was granted to Hydro-Québec without consulting the Pessamit First Nation and without considering the cumulative effects of the Quebec-New Hampshire Interconnection As the main party involved in the purchase of more than one million kilowatts proposed by Quebec, the people in New England, and especially those of New Hampshire, are invited to say NO THANKS!"
Technical and contextual precisions
- On the Betsiamites River, the frequency of flow variations is of 4 590 cu. feet /sec. to 22 954 cu. feet /sec., up to 7 times per day. The same can be said of the speed of currents and water levels that fluctuate repeatedly by 5 feet in one day, depending on energy demand.
- Water management of the Betsiamites River is contributing to the leaching out of the fry from rearing sites, the peeling of the eggs from the spawning grounds and the clogging of the latter by the clay banks made naked, in addition to directly affecting the survival rate of smolts. The result is a dramatic drop in the number of salmons.
- Between 1940 and 1950, catches were in the order of about 1,000 salmon per year. That number dropped more than half since the establishment of the dams in the early 60s. The latest statistics compiled by Pessamit indicate 32 and 84 salmon catches for the years 2014 and 2015. According to the trend curve established from 1948 to 2015, the salmon population could potentially disappear in the immediate future.
- To the detriment of the precautionary principle, Hydro-Québec's impact assessment completely disregards the above concerns. It also ignores the Convention for the Conservation of Salmon in the North Atlantic Ocean and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, ratified by Canada in 2003. In terms of biological resources, these agreements are based on operating sustainability, protection and restoration, and they appeal to the precautionary approach.
The Pessamit Innu First Nation
Pessamit, formerly called Bersimis, is a First Nations reservation and Innu community in the Canadian province of Quebec, located about 31 miles southwest from Baie-Comeau along the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River at the mouth of the Betsiamites River. Pessamit is a very active community in such fields as culture, economic development and traditional practices (Innu Aitun). The Innu language (Innu Aimun) is spoken by a vast majority of its population. There are 3933 band members, 2862 of them living on reservation. The Chief of the Band Council is René Simon.
SOURCE PESSAMIT FIRST NATION