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News Release

Federal Environmental Minister Reaches a Decision on the Proposed Grand-Mère Hydro-electric Facility

OTTAWA - January 20, 2000 - Minister of the Environment David Anderson has concluded that the proposed Grand-Mère hydro-electric facility is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects provided that the mitigation measures identified in the environmental assessment (Comprehensive Study) report are implemented. He has consequently returned the project to the federal responsible authority, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, for appropriate action.

The Minister took his decision in full consideration of the comprehensive study report, all public comments received, as well as the response by the responsible authority on public comments. The Minister determined that public concerns do not warrant further assessment by a review panel. He also concluded that the design and implementation of a follow-up program was warranted. Such a program would serve to determine the effectiveness of the measures taken to mitigate any adverse environmental effects and to verify the accuracy of the environmental assessment of the project.

The environmental assessment permitted taking major public concerns into consideration, including measures to mitigate the negative effects of the project. For example, there was concern that the new method of operating the facility by adjusting the flow of water to the demand for power, and the consequent water-level fluctuations, would affect the ice cover and limit access for recreational purposes.

In response to this concern, the environmental assessment report recommended a rigorous follow-up program and recommended precise measures, namely, adjusting the flow of water in such a way as to assure the stability of the ice cover. The information gathered in the follow-up program would then be made public, in particular to snowmobilers, to promote safety

The Grand-Mère project, proposed by Hydro-Québec, will replace the existing hydroelectric facility which is nearing the end of its service life. The project will include several new works: a 220-megawatt power station, three spillway installations and a switching yard. The existing spillway and outlet will be leveled and the existing power station will be taken out of service and used as a water retention work.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans prepared a Comprehensive Study report on all aspects of the proposal. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency managed a 30-day public consultation period which ended on July 15, 1999.

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A comprehensive study is a form of environmental assessment. Projects subject to comprehensive study are set out in regulations under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. These projects, selected because of their complexity as well as their potential to cause adverse environmental effects, require more in-depth study.

Environmental assessment is a planning tool used to identify the possible adverse effects of development projects on the environment - the air, water, land and living organisms, including human populations.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is a federal organization reporting to the Minister of the Environment. Its mission is to provide Canadians with high-quality environmental assessments that contribute to informed decision making in support of sustainable development.

For more information:

John Fraser
Press Secretary, Minister of the Environment
(819) 953-0735

Gordon Harris
Sr. Communications Advisor
(819) 953-1856