Nechako River court case starts Monday

A trial starts Monday in B.C. Supreme Court as two First Nations go up against Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. and the provincial and federal governments.

"This case is about the devastating impacts of the construction and operation of the Kenney Dam on the Nechako River, its fisheries, and Saik'uz and Stellat'en's constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights," Priscilla Mueller, Saik'uz chief, said.

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"We are going to court to protect the Nechako River and the sturgeon and salmon that are suffering because of Alcan's diversion."

None of the allegations have yet been tested in court.

Constructed in 1952 by Alcan, the Kenny Dam diverts water out of the Nechako River to generate power for the company's aluminum smelter in Kitimat and to sell to BC Hydro. Alcan diverts approximately 70 per cent of the water that would normally flow into the Nechako, resulting in enormous downstream impacts.

The proceedings will mostly be held in Vancouver, while a portion of the hearing will be held in Prince George from Nov. 18 to 22 to allow Saik'uz members to attend the trial and speak as witnesses.

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