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Innu find 130 deficiencies in government environmental study


Debora Lockyer, Windspeaker Staff Writer, Davis Inlet Laborador







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A total of 130 deficiencies have been identified in a review of a Department of National Defence study on military flight training in eastern Quebec and Labrador.

The technical review, commissioned by the Innu Nation, Conseil Des Atikamekw et des Montagnais, and Naskapi Band of Quebec was released July 28. It critiques the Department of National Defence's environmental impact statement of April 21.

Many aspects of the environmental impact statement are not just bad science but deceitful, said Daniel Ashini, an Innu Nation representative. He said the government purposefully deleted certain military practices because they would delay the public hearing process.

He cites the military's use of chaff as an example of these omissions. Chaff consists of thin, metal strips that are released into the air from the aircraft to confuse enemy radar systems.

Farmers in the United Kingdom have concerns about the use of chaff because some livestock have died or suffered illness form eating the substance, said Ashini. The DND purposefully deleted the use of chaff from the project description, he said.

Other concerns include the DND's proposal to create one giant flying zone for its low level flight training. The review shows a lack of adequate time to integrate the 130,000 sq. km. into DND's research analyses.

This flight zone is part of the DND's avoidance program where military flight training is limited to less noise-sensitive areas. It requires Allied air force pilots to avoid wildlife, Innu and Inuit camps and sports fishing camps.

The Allies have complained the avoidance restrictions have reduced the airspace needed for training. They have threatened to leave Goose Bay unless the avoidance program is significantly reduced, reads the review.

New areas in the flying zone have not been properly studied for wildlife and human land use, the review states. A comprehensive program is incompatible with the needs of the air forces training at Goose Bay, it concludes.

This is the eighth year of an environment assessment process and the 14th year of modern low level flight training. Only one research project has been funded to study the impact of military flying on wildlife, specifically the Red Wine Caribou herd.

While the DND has conducted surveys to identify concentrations of wildlife, no research has been conducted to explain how black ducks, peregrine falcons and Harlequin ducks or other wildlife may be affected, the review reports.

Aboriginal groups are also concerned the DND analysis has not included an assessment of the impact of military training in regard to the economic options of the Innu.

The Innu would like to pursue the area of outfitting and adventure tourism, but the DND and the Newfoundland government actively discourage these activities because they eliminate airspace for training, the report accuses.