If you want to know more about the proposed EM-1A hydro-electric project and are having trouble tracking down information, you can check out a Public Information Office that is now available to answer questions and provide public documents concerning the project.

Created through an agreement with the Cree Regional Authority, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and Environment Quebec, PIO is located in Montreal but can be accessed through a toll free phone number 1-877-880-8378 and on the Internet (www.bip-pio.qc.cq).

“If the Cree want to understand what is going on in their own neighbourhood, they can phone and ask us any kind of question and we look for the right answer and sometimes we have to do some research to find the correct answer,” said PIO Coordinator Stella Anastasakis.

The EM-1A project is currently undergoing impact studies. Hydro-Quebec spokesperson Johane Savard says the studies will be released publicly in early October, several months later than the previous projected date of June 30.

“To have a complete report, we have to integrate all the information from all of those who were consulted, the Cree and the non-natives,” Savard said in justifying the delay.

There are 319 documents available right now. They include the environmental process, the directives given to Hydro-Quebec and Société d’Energie de la Baie James for the public evaluation statement, transcripts for last year’s public hearings, and information on the mercury studies completed before the impact study commenced. You can also find the evaluation process, statements about the evaluation of EM-1A and the Rupert Diversion, what the steps are and who is responsible for the next steps.

Currently, the Internet site receives more than 100 hits a month, while the calls are sporadic, says Anastasakis. Inquiries are largely from professionals working in the north, teachers and students. The questions asked are about regulations in the directives, how to find information about fish and fisheries and protecting them, about mercury and health studies. The PIO does the research and tells where the information can be found or photocopies of the document are sent.