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Muskrat Falls hydro project gets environmental seal of approval

ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland, Canada 3/19/12 (PennWell) -- The 824-MW Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project has gained approval from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA), sources report.

The US$6.3 billion hydropower plant -- part of the 3,064-MW Lower Churchill project -- got the go-ahead from CEAA after a report from a joint federal-provincial panel warning that the facility would endanger fish, wetland, caribou, fishing and local culture was addressed.

Project owner Nalcor Energy has already defended Lower Churchill against similar concerns, but after the governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and of Nova Scotia allotted contract opportunities in December 2011, officials say they are confident a final green light could be coming soon.

"The environmental assessment process represents another important milestone and a major step forward as we move towards our decision on final project sanction of Muskrat Falls," Newfoundland and Labrador natural resources minister Jerome Kennedy says. "

The aboriginal Innu tribe gave its approval to the project in July 2011.

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