The Québec government released detailed information to substantiate its findings that the dam operating on the Lièvre River was responsible for this summer’s fish kill incidents. After carefully reviewing this information, we see no reason to doubt the government’s findings. Particularly convincing was new information released about the lab results, showing that some of the dead fish were found with gas bubbles in their tissues, a telltale sign of supersaturation, which is the mechanism at play here. We are relieved that the government managed to get to the bottom of this.
Since day one of these incidents, we have been in regular contact with many of the stakeholders in the area, including Brookfield*, the dam operators. While there’s absolutely no reason to believe that Brookfield was aware that their operations were causing these incidents, ultimately their operations did cause significant impacts on fish. We expect that the authorities will impose consequences commensurate with the company’s responsibility here.
Looking forward, we have the following observations
- We are carefully reviewing responses by the different authorities involved in this matter over the last weeks, and will be issuing recommendations at a later date. These will include observations on the clear need for increased transparency and timely information sharing between authorities with jurisdiction on the Ottawa River.
- There have been significant impacts to fish in the Lièvre River. We believe that mitigation and compensation measures need to be put in place. The company has already signaled its intention that it is open to these measures, and Ottawa Riverkeeper is ready to contribute its expertise to help develop them.
- We need to learn from what happened here. Supersaturation causing thousands of dead fish is a very unusual occurrence in this context, and we need to make sure that findings from expert analysis are shared broadly so that this can be avoided at this facility and at others in the watershed and beyond.
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* Evolugen is the new identity for Brookfield Renewable Canada’s business.