Cheslatta Submits Historic Application for License to Take Back Water
by Cheslatta Carrier NationSOUTHBANK, B.C. – The Cheslatta Carrier Nation submitted the water license application today for the $280 million Nechako River Legacy Project that supports construction of a water release facility at Kenney Dam.
“Submitting this application formally starts the process of taking back the water that was stolen from us 62 years ago when the government issued a private company license to all of the water in Cheslatta Traditional Territory which made billions of dollars in profit” said Cheslatta Chief Richard Peters.
“It feels a bit ironic that we are paying the Province over $10,525 to apply for part of a water license that Rio Tinto Alcan pays $5.00 a year for” Peters added.The Kenney Dam was constructed on the Nechako River in 1952 to service the Alcan aluminum smelter in Kitimat. The original design and construction of the Dam did not include a spillway, which forced the Cheslatta people to flee their villages when the massive releases of water from the Skins Lake Spillway flooded the Cheslatta River Valley destroying cemeteries and depositing millions of tons of silt, gravel and debris into Cheslatta Lake. Human skeletal remains and demolished casket fragments continue to be discovered today along the Cheslatta Lake shoreline.
The Nechako River Legacy Project would construct a water release facility at Kenney Dam would stop of the flooding of Cheslatta graves and transport the reservoir water directly into the old Nechako River and re-water 5 miles of river in the Nechako canyon, which has been dry since 1952. Although power generation is not the primary objective, Cheslatta have been in discussions with BC Hydro to secure a long-term Electricity Purchase Agreement to ensure the economic viability of the project. Cheslatta also confirm that discussions with Rio Tinto Alcan remain positive.
Cheslatta proposes to reinvest a portion of the revenue generated from power sales to create a legacy fund to stimulate the environmental, social and economic rehabilitation of the upper Nechako watershed and begin a revitalization process for the Cheslatta land and people.
“After making billions of dollars in profit from flooding the Nechako, the government and industry have never committed to a reinvestment to fix the environmental disaster they created” said Chief Peters.
“As the project moves forward, we are fully prepared to undergo all required environmental review processes to try and right a wrong that has been allowed to continue for over 60 long and tragic years.”The Cheslatta Carrier Nation is a First Nations community whose 130 members currently reside on scattered reserves located approximately 35 km south of Burns Lake, B.C. Much of Cheslatta’s prime traditional territory was flooded by the Kenney Dam in 1952 and resulted in the forced relocation of the Cheslatta people. For the past 60 years the Cheslatta people have sought to rebuild their lives and land from total social, economic and environmental devastation.
More information about the Cheslatta Carrier Nation and the Nechako River Legacy Project is available at www.facebook.com/nechakolegacy.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 30, 2013
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Chief Richard Peters or Chief Richard Peters or Mike Robertson
Cheslatta Carrier Nation
250.694.3334 cell 250 692-9214
Senior Policy Advisor
Cheslatta Carrier Nation
Burns Lake, BC V0J 1E0