Bird’s eye view of Muskrat Falls site work

Nalcor will make presentation to government within weeks: Martin

Ashley Fitzpatrick afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com
Published on August 20, 2012

Flying high by helicopter along the Churchill River towards Muskrat Falls, you can spot lines cutting through otherwise untouched sections of forest.

Dropping closer to the land, the lines gradually grow wider, until heavy equipment becomes easy to spot within them — workers creating a treeless path through the Labrador wilds.

Should the Lower Churchill development be ultimately sanctioned by Nalcor Energy and approved by government, this access road will be a main artery for contractors moving people and equipment to and from Muskrat Falls.

A clearing just off the emerging roadway, a campsite for contract workers should the project proceed, is also in development.

Down river, a similar clearing was created decades ago, in anticipation of the development of a hydro dam at the Gull Island site — a project that was not given a final green light.

Back at Nalcor’s office in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Lower Churchill project leader Gilbert Bennett said contracts awarded to date on the present-day Lower Churchill plans cover the creation of the new road, as well as the building of communications infrastructure through Bell Aliant and a power line to supply dam site work.

“Work is valued at the tens of millions of dollars and it’s important though for us to get this work underway right now so when we do sanction the project we’re in a position that we can actually start work immediately and that we’re not waiting several months in order to start work at the site,” he said, explaining the work as a calculated risk.

Waiting on the prep would risk pushing back the overall schedule and, as a result, cost overruns.

“I think the most important thing is there is a tremendous amount of work that has been done in preparation for a sanction decision,” said Nalcor’s president and CEO, Ed Martin.

Martin said updated cost estimates for the overall project are in, following detailed engineering work on the proposed hydro dam and Labrador-island power transmission system.

“The fact of the matter is when we come forward with a recommendation in the coming weeks to the provincial government that we will have our homework done, it’ll be very detailed and we’ll be in a position to offer a recommendation.”

Meanwhile, Manitoba Hydro International is continuing its review of the project, he said, adding that review process is “about half way through.”

Martin said the Crown corporation continues to be open to questions in regards to the project.

Debate on the project is scheduled for the House of Assembly this fall.

 

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

Lower Churchill

Published on 20 August 2012

Prep work for development of the Lower Churchill is already underway, including clearing of trees for a roadway to the Muskrat Falls site. — Photos by <br />Ashley Fitzpatrick/<br />The Telegram

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Ed Martin

Published on 20 August 2012

President and CEO of Nalcor, Ed Martin, takes questions from reporters at the Nalcor office in Happy Valley-Goose Bay Friday afternoon. <br />— Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

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Muskrat Falls 1

Published on 20 August 2012

<p>On the Churchill River. — Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram</p>

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Muskrat Falls 2

Published on 20 August 2012

<p>Muskrat Falls, site of Nalcor Energy’s proposed hydro dam build, as seen looking upstream, in the direction of Churchill Falls. — Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram</p>

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Muskrat Falls 3

Published on 20 August 2012

&nbsp;Muskrat Falls. Water in the Churchill River runs over Churchill Falls, through the Gull Island area and to Muskrat Falls, before heading towards Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Nalcor Energy says operations at the proposed Muskrat Falls hydro dam will be co-ordinated with operations at the existing Churchill Falls generating station. — Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

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Muskrat Falls 4

Published on 20 August 2012

The upper and lower falls of Muskrat Falls. — Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram<br /><br />

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Muskrat Falls 5

Published on 20 August 2012

Muskrat Falls looking South, from the upper falls (bottom of photo) to the lower falls (at top). — Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

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Muskrat Falls 6

Published on 20 August 2012

Sandy indents are seen along the sides of the Churchill River. The topography of the riverside is fairly flat towards Happy Valley-Goose Bay, but becomes raised and more rough as you make your way towards Churchill Falls. Nalcor Energy staff working on the proposed Lower Churchill project have taken the sands of the river into account in their development of the Muskrat Falls hydro dam plans. — Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

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Muskrat Falls 7

Published on 20 August 2012

Crews clear land, create roads, communications and power connections to the Muskrat falls construction site. While the project has not yet been sanctioned, the work is being considered by Nalcor Energy as a prudent expense, considering the costs associated with waiting until project sanction for such work. Similar work was done when a hydro project was proposed for Gull Island in the 1970s. — Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

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Muskrat Falls 7

Published on 20 August 2012

Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram<br /><br />

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Muskrat Falls 9

Published on 20 August 2012

Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

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Muskrat Falls 10

Published on 20 August 2012

Prep work for Muskrat Falls has made headway since the start of the summer, cutting a new route through the Labrador wilderness. The area seen here is on the shore opposite the existing road between Churchill Falls and Happy Valley-Goose Bay.— Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

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Muskrat Falls 11

Published on 20 August 2012

Work this summer is costing in the “tens of millions,” according to Nalcor Energy’s Lower Churchill project leader Gilbert Bennett. That said, the work is being considered a reasonable risk by the Crown corporation, considering costs associated with any delay in the start of dam site work, should the project proceed. — Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

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Muskrat Falls 12

Published on 20 August 2012

The clearing made for the Gull Island construction camp decades ago. That project was ultimately not sanctioned. However, it is being re-evaluated by Nalcor Energy, considering present market conditions and an interconnection with the mainland that would allow for power exports, assuming the Muskrat Falls and associated transmission developments proceed. — Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram<br /><br />

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Muskrat Falls 13

Published on 20 August 2012

While it is being touted as a megaproject on the horizon with great potential for the province, the Gull Island hydro site, seen here, does not have a “falls” per se. The spit of land jutting into he river from the left bank is where a dam was proposed for construction decades ago. While that project was not sanctioned at the time, it is now being re-investigated, as a potential follow-up to the Muskrat Falls development, should that project be given a final go-ahead.&nbsp; — Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

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