Top News

Pam Frampton: Muskrat Falls — a snapshot in time

The concrete spillway structure at the Muskrat Falls site is nearly complete. In between each of those gaps, metal gates seven storeys high will be installed to control the flow of the river.  On Monday, workers were doing one of the final cement pours of construction on this component; the very last pour here will happen Wednesday.
The concrete spillway structure at the Muskrat Falls site is nearly complete. In between each of those gaps, metal gates seven storeys high will be installed to control the flow of the river.  On Monday, workers were doing one of the final cement pours of construction on this component; the very last pour here will happen Wednesday.

This week, I went back through our archives to find out what was being said about the Muskrat Falls project in 2013 by politicians, proponents and the public, as well as in the risk assessment report written by project prime consultant SNC-Lavalin in April 2013.

Pam Frampton

The observations speak for themselves.

Telegram news story, April 3, 2013:

Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of residents completely or mostly support the Muskrat Falls project. … “Despite ongoing criticism of the Muskrat Falls project,” said Don Mills, chairman and CEO of (Corporate Research Associates), “a clear majority of citizens in Newfoundland and Labrador support the hydroelectric development project.”

Telegram news story by Ashley Fitzpatrick, July 13, 2013:
“If SNC-Lavalin cannot be trusted (on the Muskrat Falls project), I don’t know who can be trusted,” said Normand Bechard, general project manager for SNC-Lavalin on Muskrat Falls.

SNC-Lavalin’s report:

“The risk team reviewers have serious concerns in regards to the strategy to realize the Lower Churchill Project.”

Telegram news story by Ashley Fitzpatrick, Oct. 11, 2013:

West White Rose is one more multibillion-dollar development in the province, adding to the Hebron oil project and the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development. (Premier Kathy Dunderdale) was asked if the pile-up might cause problems with labour supply and sub-contractor availability.
“There is so much going on in the province at the moment," she said. "It’s always top of mind with us. We’re working within (a) realistic envelope of what we can manage, and no doubt there are challenges, and we deal with that every day. But they’re good challenges. It’s a good problem to have.”

SNC-Lavalin’s report:
“Manpower availability is a big concern in the Alberta oil and gas industry. They have developed, to attract labour from Newfoundland, a frequent fly-in fly-out rotation and a generous salary and conditions package; this in a province with normally low income taxes. We have also a competing project in Newfoundland; the Hebron project…
“The unavailability of qualified construction manpower may lead to schedule delays and extra labour costs, as well as impacting on the quality of the works, increased safety risks, etc.…
“The manpower needed to fulfil the work should be in the neighbourhood of 2,500 people and the project is presently working with 1,500. This concern has to be reviewed and given proper consideration at once.”

SNC-Lavalin’s report:

“Some groups in the N.L. population could react against the project, increasing its political sensitivity, protests or demonstration.… Representatives of First Nations could block construction sites to apply pressure on (the Lower Churchill project) and to promote their agendas, leading to schedule delay, extra costs and reputational damage.”

Telegram editorial Aug. 13, 2013:

Right now, the Muskrat Falls project is facing legal challenges on at least three fronts. Two aboriginal groups in Labrador — the Nunatsiavut government and the Nunatukavut Community Council — are challenging the project over an alleged lack of consultation. And Hydro-Québec has asked for legal clarity of its contractual rights concerning Churchill Falls, which may affect the feasibility of Muskrat Falls.

Telegram news story, Nov. 29, 2013:

“The lines have been drawn. But there is one line that we are determined to stop — and that is the Labrador-Island transmission line!" Todd Russell, president, NunatuKavut Community Council.

SNC-Lavalin’s report:
“As limited geotechical investigations have been performed on the North Spur, adverse conditions could be discovered during construction, leading to major rework, cost overruns and delays.”

Letter to the editor, Cabot Martin, July 13, 2013:
“Indeed, Nalcor failed to do the most basic North Spur geotechnical investigations prior to project sanction last December, and have been spending away in violation of the most basic rule of project management — do your homework before turning on the money tap.”

Letter to the editor, John Janes, June 25, 2013:
“If the government has made an analysis of the risk this project poses to the provincial economy, it’s about time it was made public.”

Letter to the editor, Premier Kathy Dunderdale Nov. 9, 2013:

“Never before in the history of this province has a project undergone such scrutiny, and never before has such detailed information been publicly available — a testament to the project’s openness and transparency.”

 

Pam Frampton is The Telegram’s associate managing editor. Email pframpton@thetelegram.com. Twitter: pam_frampton

Latest News