Nalcor submits impact statement for transmission line

Cabins, provincial parks, water supplies within suggested power corridor

Ashley Fitzpatrick afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com
Published on April 10, 2012
D1 Nalcor Transmission line map

The damming of the Lower Churchill has been released from environmental assessment. However, assessment of the Labrador-Island Link — including the transmission line for Lower Churchill power — is ongoing.

Nalcor Energy filed an environmental impact statement Monday, providing new detail on the proposed line and link.

The document is available on the Nalcor website.

The Telegram was able to go through the 114-page executive summary prior to deadline.

The project is a pan-provincial, connecting the island to mainland Canada and creating 1,100 kilometres of 350-kilovolt high voltage, direct current (HVdc) line from Central Labrador to the Avalon Peninsula.

The total construction cost is estimated at $2.1 billion.

The project will require: the HVdc line, two converter stations (at Muskrat Falls and Soldiers Pond), a transition building at Forteau Point (50 metres by 50 metres and up to 16 metres high), underwater cable from Forteau to Shoal Cove, a transition building at Shoal Cove, shoreline electrodes at L’Anse au Diable and Dowden’s Point (to provide a return path for a small amount of current generated by voltage imbalances) and select upgrades to the island’s existing power system.

There will be as much as 34 kilometres of five-metre-wide access roads created, with four-metre-wide access trails, culverts and/or bridges added as needed. 

Nalcor is planning 11 temporary work camps, each to occupy 1.82 hectares with: a bunkhouse for 150 workers, a kitchen, dining hall, recreation area, first aid station, helicopter pad, water treatment facility and waste water treatment system.

There will be 10 assembly yards (each to contain about 20,000 litres of stored fuel), five marshal-

ling yards (five hectares each) and additional staging areas for storage.

Local gravel and concrete will be used for access routes and tower foundations.

“Vegetation will be controlled through a combination of herbicide application and manual cutting.”

In its impact statement, Nalcor noted provincial flora and fauna potentially affected. It highlights certain species like woodland caribou — committing to protecting and supporting the populations.

The submission states expected effects on the environment, potential accidents and malfunctions during construction, aboriginal consultation to date and “previous and ongoing activities” by people in the affected areas — about 88 per cent of which will be uninhabited Crown land.

“The project is being planned by Nalcor in a manner that considers environmentally sensitive areas of the province and has avoided these areas to the extent practical,” the company states.

Yet, the two-kilometre-wide corridor studied for the line route does overlap with private and public holdings, potentially affecting more than 600 cabin owners, as well as towns, businesses, trail users and provincial parkgoers.

The “corridor” study area will eventually be narrowed to a 60-metre right-of-way wherein the lines will actually go.

Notably, Nalcor’s submission does not state Gros Morne National Park will be affected.

Engineering design and construction for the line and link is expected to take about five years. Construction will provide an estimated 3,070 person-years of employment.

Once the link and line is in operation, Nalcor has stated, about 30 new full-time employees will be needed to keep it in working order.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com