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Tsuu'tina ask for 'truly objective' Springbank Dam environmental assessment

Chief Lee Crowchild questions the environmental impact assessment and demands federal intervention on contentious Springbank Dam project

Chief Lee Crowchild governs the Tsuut'ina First Nation.

Elizabeth Cameron / For Metro

Chief Lee Crowchild governs the Tsuut'ina First Nation.

The Tsuut'ina First Nation is demanding the federal government conduct an independent environmental assessment of the Springbank Dam project, accusing provincial officials of a conflict of interest.

On Wednesday, the provincial government released the results of an Environmental Impact Assessment that's being sent in for review by bodies in the federal and provincial government before construction on the Springbank Dam can go through.

The application is being sent to the Alberta Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) provincially and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEA Agency) federally for the final say. The province is hoping approval will come within 12 to 14 months so that construction can line up with timelines allowing the dam to open for base function in 2021 and complete construction in 2022.

"Going through this we can see the long-term concerns as far as groundwater and those types of things are not significant," said Alberta Transportation communications advisor Adam Johnson. "It's encouraging and we certainly hope this answers some of those concerns."

The report was written by Stantec, who the Tsuut'ina Chief points out in his letter are working on the project should it go ahead.

At a press conference, a spokesman for the ministry of transportation confirmed the company would be the managing engineers on the project and the province would hire another firm to go through and do the construction.

"I believe the firm that has conducted the provincial environmental assessment is conflicted," wrote Chief Lee Chrowchild. "What is needed is a truly objective assessment."

The chief reiterated that the Tsuut'ina Nation continues to deny their consent to the "mega-project" they say is metres from their nation and could potentially have disastrous effects on treaty lands upstream and downstream from the project.

"This is a completely independent process," said Johnson. "CEA will take a look at this and will make a determination if what we have found meets their review and following that we would hope to have the confidence of the public moving forward."

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