Tunnels and facts

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I would like to comment on an article in the Nov. 2 edition of The Telegram headlined “Dumeresque worried about icebergs: Nalcor says it’s cool.”

Gilbert Bennett, vice-president, Nalcor, contends that “the tunnel idea has been studied, and it would be more expensive and potentially not workable. He said geological study of the area showed several deep fissures in the rock would be majorly problematic to tunnel construction.”

Hatch, Mott, MacDonald, a world renowned consulting firm that was commissioned to do the prefeasibility study, with hundreds of highly qualified engineers, concluded that a tunnel beneath the seabed in the Strait of Belle Isle was feasible and would have the least environmental impact. Also, if Nalcor combined the cables with transportation in the tunnel, they would save $380 million.

Times change

Is Mr. Bennett ignorant of the fact that advances in technology allows such a tunnel to be constructed? He obviously feels Nalcor has much more expertise than Hatch, Mott, MacDonald, which I very much doubt.

He said, “in the early stages of the Muskrat Falls development, Nalcor assigned teams to look at the two options and compare. We had a tunnel team and we had a seabed team.” He goes on to say that in every one of these major considerations, including the technical feasibility, safety, cost certainty, options in terms of mitigating things if something goes wrong and geological risk, the seabed won in every category.

Question: is Mr. Bennett prepared to make these studies public and is he willing to state categorically that there is absolutely no way an iceberg can sever the cables laid on the seabed?

On another matter, if the Hatch, Mott, MacDonald report was so flawed, why did we pay them $330,000 for the study?


Burford Ploughman

St. John’s

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Recent comments

  • Dwayne
    November 18, 2013 - 16:01

    The way people rationalize their opinions is confusing sometimes. For example: a $1 Billion tunnel to serve a few people on the Northern Peninsula? Really? So you really think that this tunnel will be used primarily for a few folks to take a flick across the straits for a day bakeapple picking or salmon fishing on the pinware river? What about the fact that it would join this province (island portion) to Canada and be the very thing that gets us all (including Labrador) connected to upper CAnada by Route 138 through northern Quebec. It would be a game changer for the province and the country. It's time to take the blinders off and have a look at how progressive countries are building their economies through efficient transportation networks connecting them to the world.

  • david
    November 18, 2013 - 13:44

    Time travel. I vote yes.

  • WTF
    November 18, 2013 - 11:01

    If it was feasible it would have already been done. It must be some kind of new math to think that it's feasible. A truck would take a couple days more journeying up through Quebec then across Labrador and down the Northern Pen. Not to mention the added cost of building and maintaining new roads to handle the traffic. This tunnel wouldn't serve millions of people, only thousands. Looks like it's not just the government that's on a public spending spree.

    • Kevin
      November 18, 2013 - 12:14

      Whoever WTF is must be doing his math THE WRONG WAY. The traffic through Labrador with the road connected from the coast right through to Lab City has increased ALOT. I guess you must be one of those island boys that think that they are the only ones living here in this province and the hell with Labrador........YOU ONLY SEE THE ISLAND THAT YOU LIVE ON......

  • Cashin Delaney
    November 18, 2013 - 10:29

    A tunnel is feasible, but there is no advantage for ruling class to not resist it. Islands help monopolies persist. Ruling class fly, commoners drive. Why complete the TCH? Ruling class have better options during a major outage, and ruling class will get more money when the cable needs to be repaired or replaced by a major undertaking, as opposed to pulling a new conductor through a designated conduit in a tunnel overnight. You can twist geology to tell us port aux port shale is a solid bet, and this tunnel is a problemy riskation, or whatever the awkward quote is. The corporate consortium opinion media has a duty more important than providing facts. It begs emotional response, and provides "balance", this is why factual letters are panned, and this one gets in people's heads. If we dump emotionally on Bennett (pseudo-antipathy) we will produce the rob ford effect. Next thing, Bob W is asked to provide balance in a column where he identifies with poor Gilbert. However, if we tallied the data on Ford, we would see that his spousal abuse, like Bennett's apparent disregard for our common heritage and weal, becomes forgotten in the quest for journalistic balance (not censorship) and we start accepting the balance, and realize that anyone can make a mistake, especially compromised people unqualified to run cities and crown energy outfits, so we pity them. Pity the fools on our quest for balance. Pity the slimy, bigoted, abusive, passive-aggressive stooges who we feel guilty about ragging on once the media balances the ph of the political hot tub or HVAC system, if you will. Stop picking on Bennett. He is a figurehead. He wasn't voted in, or anything. You may as well rail against Mary Brown, or Billy Boot. If we could only hear the real factual dissent from the third floor of hydro place. A tunnel needs power and a cable needs a strong, dry accessible conduit, like a tunnel. Combining the too would be a no-brainer...Gilbert is not ignorant, he is a brainer behind closed doors, just the cat got his tongue in public that's all. Let's start pitying him some, before we go too far into his villanization, and make a victim through media influence. Poor Gilbert, I've pitied his role since him and his safety man took on that loose cannon, that inciteful Labrador columnist who is too close to the real project to provide balance.

  • David Keat
    November 18, 2013 - 09:59

    Is the letter writer trying to say that a tunnel large enough to transport vehicles and provide a conduit for high voltage power lines across the Strait of Belle Isle would be $380 million cheaper than a system that would only protect high voltage lines under the straits? I highly doubt that this would be the case, and if so, I'd love to see that study. I'm not necessarily in favor of the muskrat falls power line, but a 10 km undersea tunnel to connect populations as small as on the tip of the Northern Peninsula and in southern Labrador makes no economic sense. Since there's already a boat in the summer, and winter is too harsh in Labrador to have a large driving tourist industry, a $1 billion tunnel provides no benefit. It's simply not economically feasible.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    November 18, 2013 - 08:12

    What about the Muskrat Falls dam and generation facility? We don't even know it is feasible. But we do know that it is not worth the cost. Wholesle energy prices in Ontario?--- 1.3 cents per KWh. Cost to produce and transmit MF energy 37 cents per KWh (before cost overruns).

  • Too Funny
    November 18, 2013 - 07:54

    Just because it's "feasible" doesn't mean it should be done. Peckford proved it was feasible to grow cucumbers in large greenhouses in Mount Pearl but it wasn't worth the cost.

    • Steve
      November 18, 2013 - 08:19

      There is technical feasibilty and economic feasibility. I believe the letter writer is claiming both aspects are feasible. Peckford's cucumbers may have been technically feasible, but not economically feasible.

    • Jerome
      November 18, 2013 - 13:53

      No he never. The only thing that was proved was that in the city with the most days of fog anywhere on the planet that one cannot grow cucumbers in a period of time that would make it viable for market without a $30,000 light / heat bill per month.

    • DD
      November 18, 2013 - 14:56

      Yes, Jerome. That's the difference between between "feasible" and "viable". It's feasible to build a tunnel (just like Sprung) but neither are viable.