Hydro Quebec's Rupert river diversion project at James Bay has come under fire from a battery of US environmental campaigning groups, which have joined forces with Canadian greens and native communities.
The Rupert river diversion project is being developed by the utility to convey much of its water to reservoirs serving the Eastman complex and then, chiefly, the La Grande scheme at James Bay. A 125MW plant at Sarcelle is also to be built.
The entire project is due to be commissioned over 2010-11 and provide an extra 888MW of production capacity and generate an extra 8.5TWh per year. Hearings and consultations on the hydro scheme started in 2003.
Among the 18-strong group of US opponents to the Rupert river diversion scheme are the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Friends of the Earth US, Sierra Club and International Rivers Network (IRN).
In a statement, the group said the project was being developed in opposition to local community wishes and warned that many of its members were previously involved in opposition to the Great Whale hydro scheme, which was subsequently cancelled in the early 1990s.
Civils works required for the diversion project include four dams, a spillway, 75 dykes, a forebay and tailbay, a 2.9km long transfer tunnel, approximately 12km of canals and a number of hydraulic control structures on the river.
hydro-quebec will divert water first to the Eastmain-1 plant, which is under construction, and from there the discharge will be received at the Eastmain-1-A plant. The waters will then be added to the flows reaching the three plants of the La Grande complex – Robert-Bourassa, La Grande-2-A and La Grande-1.
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