Safety is everyone’s responsibility

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We were quite taken aback when we read a recent column by Michael Johansen published in The Telegram, Labradorian and Aurora (“Nalcor bedevilled by unwelcome visitors,” July 20 Weekend Telegram) in which the writer basically encouraged people to put their life at risk and, in doing so, also risk the safety and lives of others.

In our view, Johansen’s article encouraged members of the general public to breach the Muskrat Falls construction site with the intent of disrupting site activity.

This has serious safety consequences and is a violation of the law.

First, Nalcor’s No. 1 priority in all our operations is safety — the safety of our employees, workers, contractors and the general public.

Second, most, if not all, large industrial construction sites have restricted access for the same reason — to protect people from injury and prevent fatalities.

Nalcor is not “bedevilled” at the access breaches at site; we are genuinely concerned for our workers and these individuals.

At the Muskrat Falls site, no admittance signs, security gates and a court-imposed injunction are in place for one reason — safety.

A person wandering onto a

construction site is not only risking their safety, but they can distract workers who are completing highly skilled and hazardous activities.

These workers need 100 per cent of their attention on the task at hand and distractions such as site breaches of this nature could have serious consequences.  

Current activities at the construction sites include regular blasting, the operation of large industrial equipment and drilling operations.

These are activities which carry high risks to individuals not properly oriented or trained.

Persons on site receive extensive safety orientations and are expected to follow detailed safety protocols.

When someone breaches the site, their safety cannot be assured and it could result in tragic and dire consequences.

Nalcor has also posted safety signage along the Churchill River to warn the public of the life-threatening risk the hazardous site activities may cause to themselves and others if they enter the construction site.

We implore people to respect site access limitations.

We have always respected the right of people to express their opinions regarding Muskrat Falls or any other aspect of our operations.

Our company must continue to prioritize the safety of these individuals and we ask media and opinion-based columnists to help us do the same.

Gilbert Bennett,

vice-president, Lower Churchill project

Dave Riffe, safety, health, security

and emergency response manager work

for Nalcor Energy, Lower Churchill Project

Geographic location: Churchill River

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Recent comments

  • Just Sayin
    August 19, 2013 - 09:05

    If Bennett is so concerned about safety, perhaps they will educate us on the plans for the North Spur quick clay problem. Now there's a safety issue needing answers...that should have come before project sanction.

  • MrSqueaker
    August 18, 2013 - 09:02

    We implore you to respect your limitations. NALCOR operates like a secret society and expects its Magus of subterfuge to be heeded and respected. If this letter came from anyone but he, it could be taken at face value. Attacking people with safety sounds like something from the warped mind of Mao or Dick Cheney. All the pieces of this puzzle have be so studied, including psychology. Do you imagine that Gilbert Bennett is motivated by safety, 100%? If he is, then he should expedite his response on such urgent matters by delegating a response. He seems to want to be a celebrity! Jim Haynes would have written a better request. He could have signed this one, and the outcome would be better. Of course Johansen must be given license here by a society familiar with Johnthan Swift and a host of gonzos and media freaks. No one thought he was calling on the Metis army to invade, he was making a point about project planning.

  • Cashin Delaney
    August 18, 2013 - 08:29

    This is baiting gentleman. You have chosen this time to try and incite more physical action by the Inuit-Metis. It took both of you nearly a month to come up with this letter, yet claim safety as the top priority. Timing seems to be a close second. You have many lawsuits. I smell another one brewing. This access issue was addressed at meetings before the joint review, but was left as an opened ended loose string to be tied up at this time. Mr. Riffe must realize that by letting himself be used here politically will negatively affect his leadership abilities and distract from his duties. To be known as the stooge of a twit is not a pleasant legacy. People are being pressured by NALCOR to defend their homeland. When your community is being threatened, personal safety natuarlly takes a back seat as quiet hippies become fearless heroes. Starting this project prematurely is the fault of government or NALCOR or Feds. Is there a difference? Major safety risks were accepted by beginning early just to break ground before any DFO permits could be questioned. Shouldn't DFO also regulate travel on this river? Is it ok to further mercury-posion this water course, so long as we all got our PPE on and go through orientation rites. How can workers now give 100% attention to tasks when politicians and NALCOR and the Feds have created a melange of unmitigatable social ills through there own distractive politicizing. Bennett has the gall to call out the media for causing all this? Opinions, and opinion columnists are dangerous, but necessary.

  • Corporate Psycho
    August 17, 2013 - 12:22

    Dear Gilbert, did we read the same article? Bizarre letter.