- May 2017
James Bay hydro-electric project
The James Bay hydroelectric project proposed to construct watersheds along the eastern shores of the Hudson Bay from James Bay to Ungava Bay in Canada. This distance is approximately 750 miles. It would alter nineteen waterways and create 27 reservoirs (Linton, 1991). The first phase of construction, called La Grande River phase, was planned to generate more than ten megawatts, which is the equivalent of roughly ten nuclear power plants. This portion of the project would require large impoundment reservoirs, comparable to the size of the state of Connecticut. The James Bay hydroelectric project was the first “mega-scale hydroelectric project to be built in the sub-Arctic.” The project was proposed in the early 1970s, at a time when “physical and social environmental effects were not taken into significant consideration” (Hornig, 2000). Due to its timing and lack of environmental assessment and research, the James Bay hydroelectric project was compared to the Mackenzie Valley pipeline proposals of Arctic Gas and Foothills within the Berger Inquiry. At the time, during the 1970s, there were few people who actively opposed the construction of the James Bay hydroelectric plant. They included the Cree inhabitants of the area and some environmental activists. However, during the 1980s, after the completion of the La Grande River phase, opposition became more frequent and more apparent as concerns about environmental impacts became more well-known.
Hornig, J. F. (2000). Review: Social and Environmental Impacts of teh James Bay Hydroelectric Project. Natural Resources & Environment, 121.
Linton, J. I. (1991). Guest Editorial: The James Bay Hydroelectric Project -- Issue of the Century. Arctic, iii-iv.