Thursday, 27 October 2016

IS IT POSSIBLE “TO MAKE MUSKRAT RIGHT”?

Guest Post Written by David Vardy

The marathon consultations between the province and aboriginal leaders concluded early Wednesday morning with an Agreement to establish an Expert Advisory Committee. This was the outcome arising from occupation of the Muskrat Falls site, along with a hunger strike and demonstrations in Ottawa, in Labrador and on the Island. 

The agreement leaves many questions unanswered, including the composition of the Advisory Committee, its governance and its authority. The outcome will rest in the hands of “science” and “traditional” knowledge but often scientific evidence and research are inconclusive or divergent.

How will divergent views be accommodated to reach a reasonable solution to the risks posed to human health by methylmercury? Will the Expert Advisory Committee agree on measures to remove additional vegetation and topsoil to mitigate the poisoning of mammals, fish and birds?  The Agreement also leaves many questions unanswered, including the resolution of the risk of landslides at the Muskrat Falls site because of sensitive clays. These risks have the potential to threaten the safety of workers on the site as well as Labrador residents.

Will this Agreement be the Tipping Point, to use the words of Malcolm Gladwell? The Tipping Point is “that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips and spreads like wildfire.” This historic Agreement could be the Tipping Point that will empower citizens and communities who have been alienated from the Muskrat Falls project and make those who are responsible for the project more accountable.

Is there a better approach?


David A. Vardy
Is there a better approach which does not require that people go to the barricades, a more rational approach to finding solutions to the complex problems arising from this beleaguered project? The joint federal provincial panel offered a number of ideas, along with a generic approach to dispute resolution, in their report of August 2011, prior to the sanctioning of the project. This generic approach presents a better approach to that which has been on offer to date. It might not be the best possible solution but it offers a basic standard for developing an effective system for monitoring, adaptive management, community engagement and dispute resolution. The purpose of this article is to review this better approach, which was largely rejected by both the federal and provincial governments, along with the panel’s warnings about the wisdom of proceeding with this project, without evaluation of the alternatives (panel report p.13).[i]

The problem is that the previous government did not put in place proper mechanisms to deal with methylmercury and the many other issues that are simmering. The public interest was sacrificed to get this project completed; Nalcor was given unfettered power to do so and to override all opposition. A project of this magnitude requires a well-designed process for oversight, engagement of communities and for dispute resolution.

The agreement reached in the early hours of October 26, 2016 provides a catalyst for the Liberal government of Premier Ball to revisit the approach taken by his predecessors in the province’s official Response of March 15, 2016 to the joint panel report. Indeed, it also suggests that both the federal and provincial governments should take a fresh look at the recommendations contained in the joint panel report (particularly Chapter 15), along with a renewal of the proposed joint federal provincial approach. If the occupation of the site, the hunger strike and the demonstrations become the catalyst for an improved adaptive management approach to this project the efforts of those who “stormed the Bastille” will not have been in vain. 

It is not too late to change direction. Indeed the three year delay until 2020 before full power affords an opportunity to Make Muskrat Better. The undersigned continues to believe that the case for continuing with the project, rather than suspending the generation component, has yet to be made, a position that government has not embraced. If they are determined to go forward without documenting the evidentiary base for continuing then the least government can do is to get the environmental management right, by establishing independent and effective environmental oversight.

Both the federal and provincial governments took a dismissive approach to the panel’s recommendations, with the federal government deferring to the province and the provincial government deferring to Nalcor. On specific measures the province repeated that government “accepted the intent” but they did not generally accept the specific mitigation measures.[ii]


The joint panel recommended independent monitoring and oversight of the project, along with a mechanism to mediate disputes. In such a complex project they foresaw that many issues would arise that would require a forum for discussion and mediation, a mechanism independent of Nalcor, the project proponent.

Monitoring and Community Liaison Committee
The panel recommended (Recommendation 15.5) the creation of a Monitoring and Community Liaison Committee. This committee would “provide community feedback and advice to the Department (of Environment and Climate Change) and to Nalcor on relevant issues including Project-specific mitigation, impact monitoring and adaptive management committed to by Nalcor and as recommended by the Panel.” The Committee would “liaise with the public to ensure a transparent approach to addressing public concerns and the communication of monitoring results.” The province’s response “accepts the intent of this recommendation” and commits that “a committee will be established by Nalcor to provide feedback and advice to the Proponent and Government on the effects of the Project.” They went on to say that the “Government is committed to ensuring consultation with affected Aboriginal groups, Communities, and relevant stakeholders to address public concerns and communicate monitoring results.”

They missed the point when they said the Committee would “be established by Nalcor”. The Committee should be completely independent of Nalcor. The previous government allowed Nalcor full control over the project, including its oversight.

Complaints Resolution Process
The panel recommended (Recommendation 15.8) creation of a complaints resolution process to address “concerns relating to possible adverse Project effects on individuals”. It would provide easy access for individuals to bring concerns or complaints to Nalcor via a toll-free phone number, website and other appropriate means” along with “third-party adjudication in the event that complaints cannot be otherwise resolved to the satisfaction of both Nalcor and the complainant”. This process was to be developed “in consultation with the Monitoring and Community Liaison Committee, to address concerns relating to possible project adverse effects.”

Accountability Reporting
The joint panel recommended (Recommendation 15.1) an authorizing regulation, listing the environmental commitments made by the proponent and other requirements recommended by the panel and accepted by the government, and enforcing compliance therewith? Has any such regulation been issued? This recommendation calls for an “annual report describing Nalcor’s environmental management activities and results, including mitigation, monitoring and adaptive management.” Has any such environmental accountability report been published by Nalcor?

Joint Federal Provincial Agreement
The joint panel recommended (Recommendation 15.2) a joint federal provincial regulatory plan, along with a Memorandum of Agreement to make it legally binding. This Memorandum of Agreement identifies the department responsible to coordinate activities and to produce a joint annual report for each government. The government’s response “accepts the intent of this recommendation and will continue to work to ensure collaboration with federal regulatory authorities to develop a coordinated and effective approach regarding compliance and inspection activities.” Has such a Memorandum of Agreement been executed? Where are the joint annual reports?

Budget for Environmental Activities
Recommendations 15.3 and 15.4 of the joint panel report call for a ten year budget for environmental activities, to enable implementation of the environmental management plan. Is there a ten year plan for Nalcor, as well as for each responsible implementing department? The March 15, 2012 provincial response provided no comfort when they said:

“The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador accepts the intent of this recommendation (my bolding). The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador supports the provision of adequate and appropriate funding for Project-related environmental management including socio-economic mitigation commitments until there is no longer evidence of on-going environmental effects resulting from the Project. Any allocation of funding would be subject to the appropriate legislative approval.”

Does this sound like an unequivocal commitment to fund environmental remediation and mitigation?

Dam Failure: Emergency Preparedness
Recommendation 14.1 calls for emergency preparation in the event of a dam failure and for Nalcor to “prepare and provide to affected communities updated maps that more clearly show areas that would be flooded following a dam failure”. Also the panel recommends preparation of an Emergency Preparedness Plan, for a response in the event of a catastrophic dam failure, including evacuation plans and a flood warning system for Mud Lake and Happy Valley-Goose Bay to be approved by the provincial Department of Environment and Conservation. While the Government “accepts the intent of this recommendation” has any action been taken?

Sensitive Clays
The oversight framework recommended by the joint panel, if implemented, would provide a forum within which concerns relating to the sensitive clays on the site of the Muskrat Falls project could be addressed. Questions remain unanswered as to the extent of the sampling of soils (through boreholes and other techniques) that has been undertaken by Nalcor and the dangers arising from the filling of the reservoir. Such a forum would allow consideration of the effectiveness of remedial and mitigation measures, such as the installation of cut-off walls, the stabilization of slopes and the use of pumps to reduce water levels. The work undertaken by Nalcor and their consultants requires a forum for its discussion and testing.

This is too important an issue for Nalcor to decide on its own. The independent experts retained by Nalcor have not given strong assurances of the safety of the project after remediation. The letter from Nalcor’s geotechnical expert, Serge Leroueil, is an example of this when he says, in his letter of support, that “my knowledge of the dynamic behaviour of soils and its analysis is rather limited.” Dr. Stig Bernander has categorized the stability problems in terms of “downhill progressive landslides” for which standard methodology does not apply but this has been contested by Nalcor. No forum has been offered for Dr. Bernander to present his research results or to be taken seriously by Nalcor and the Department of Environment and Climate Change. The Grand Riverkeeper Labrador Inc. has done yeoman service by insisting that a process be established to weigh and to test the evidence presented by “science”, recognizing that science does not always speak with absolute certainty and must be weighed by independent experts.

The problem of the sensitive clays at the North Spur calls for independently facilitated forums where the community can question Nalcor’s experts. Nalcor should not be allowed to flood the dam without a thorough airing of the risks and the threat to human life, to both workers at the site and residents of Labrador. Many of the remedial measures being implemented by Nalcor had not been developed before the joint panel concluded its report and have not been publicly presented and discussed with stakeholders. Application of the precautionary approach demands that all risks be thoroughly explored.

Methyl Mercury
Turning to the methyl mercury issue, the panel recommended (Recommendation 4.5) the full clearing of the reservoir, but did not include the removal of all vegetation or topsoil. The Harvard research study repudiated Nalcor’s assumption that the mercury leached from the soil would be dissipated and dispersed. It has led to demands for full clearing and soil removal.

The panel decided to take a precautionary approach. They said they were “not convinced that all effects beyond the mouth of the river will be “non-measurable” as defined by Nalcor (within natural variability)…  The Panel acknowledges that there is difficulty in accurately predicting the scale of effects given the absence of long-term ecological studies of the effects of hydroelectric projects in northern environments on receiving waters. However, the Panel believes that this emphasizes the need for a precautionary approach particularly because no feasible adaptive management measures have been identified to reverse either long-term adverse ecological changes or mercury contamination of renewable resources.”

As the Telegram points out in its Editorial of October 15, this is in accordance with Principle 15 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development which states that ‘Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.’

The approach agreed to in the early hours of October 26 allows for a fresh look at the latest science. This will afford an opportunity to revisit the advice from the joint panel and to build upon it, perhaps devising some kind of independently facilitated process. Such an approach should balance divergent scientific views with traditional knowledge, to seek an effective model which can be applied to resolve other contentious issues.

As the Premier said Wednesday morning, government cannot abdicate its responsibility to govern but the public interest will be served by the kind of Expert Advisory Committee mutually agreed by the parties to the marathon consultations. Certain principles should be followed in creating the committee and configuring its governance structure. It should be chaired by an independent facilitator, independent of all stakeholders, including Nalcor and government. Nalcor’s role should be through non-voting membership and their role should be to supply information. The Committee should be inclusive of the community groups involved. Decision-making rules should be decided in advance, defining voting rights and the level of consensus needed before recommendations are presented to government.

Conclusion: Make Muskrat Better
It is time for the government to review the recommendations for oversight and dispute resolution offered by the joint panel and to strengthen them if possible. It has to be recognized that the joint panel delivered its report more than five years ago and that new information is available which has to be considered. The panel’s recommendations should be viewed as a minimum level of oversight, monitoring and adaptive management, not a maximum. The province should raise the bar, not lower it, and should introduce a pro-active approach which will empower communities and not subject them to the discretion of Nalcor. It is not too late in the day to get environmental management right, given the three year delay in the completion of the project, from 2017 to 2020.

Government must take charge of this project and put in place a proper oversight process for the environmental impacts, as well as for the other dimensions of the project, including safety, affordability, probity, and transparency. Government made a commitment during the election to “open the books on Muskrat Falls”.

This requires a full audit of all contracts by the Auditor General and reaffirmation of the oversight role of the Public Utilities Board, as well as the implementation of the recommendations of the joint panel for oversight, engagement of communities and for dispute resolution. Other oversight activities have been in abeyance, including reports from the Oversight Committee of Deputy Ministers and the completion of the Ernst and Young review, which had been expected in March of this year. No reports on visits by the Independent Engineer, MWH Global, to the Muskrat Falls site have been yet released in 2016. Hopefully the Agreement of October 26, 2016 will be a turning point in the oversight for this troubled project, whose sanctioning was a mistake of monumental proportions.

While government has taken the position that this project cannot be suspended or “placed on ice” the delay in schedule affords an opportunity to strengthen and reform environmental mitigation and remediation as well as the whole oversight process. It offers a Tipping Point.

The Ball administration has a real opportunity to Make Muskrat Better, if not To Make Muskrat Right! They should revisit the recommendations of the joint panel. In so doing they should design mechanisms that are independently facilitated, inclusive and transparent to reduce the risks posed by methyl mercury and sensitive clays.


David Vardy


[1] “The Panel concluded that Nalcor’s analysis, showing Muskrat Falls to be the best and least-cost way to meet domestic demand requirements, was inadequate and recommended a new, independent analysis based on economic, energy and environmental considerations. The analysis would address domestic demand projections, conservation and demand management, alternative on-Island energy sources, the role of power from Churchill Falls, Nalcor’s cost estimates and assumptions with respect to its no-Project thermal option, the possible use of offshore gas as a fuel for the Holyrood thermal generating facility, cash flow projections for Muskrat Falls, and the implications for the province’s ratepayers and regulatory systems.” (Page 13 of joint panel report)

[11] The author has requested a meeting with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to seek an update on the progress achieved in implementing the recommendations of the joint panel and to learn what oversight mechanisms have been put in place by the federal and provincial governments. The author is operating with the understanding that it is this Department which has been designated as the coordinating authority for the province and therefore the principal Department charged with enforcing compliance with undertakings and conditions imposed upon the Proponent, Nalcor Energy. This meeting has not yet been scheduled. The meeting was requested in order to encourage the province to revisit the joint panel report as the basis for establishing generic mechanisms which might be applied to contentious environmental issues such as those relating to methylmercury, dam failure and landslides. Hopefully the process of review of the approach taken by the previous administration is already well underway.

21 comments:

  1. There is a better approach. Just cancel the dam, settle the contracts and give us the monthly bill per household to repay this mess. Then go after the perpetrators of this crime like Iceland would.

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    1. Id absolutely love to see this happen....criminals the whole lot, past and current. I can imagine future as well. Sad days for this beautiful province. :(

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    2. Could we declare bankruptcy and leave the feds holding the bag? They deserve it. Then prosecute.

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  2. While I agree that the "Anonymous" comment above is what would Make Muskrat Right, I fear that even Mr. Vardy's cohesive, rational framework for moving forward will fall on deaf ears without a sustained significant demand from our indigenous peoples. Maurice Adams, Paradise

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  4. Yes David you have outlined the neglected issues well. The problem is that Nalcor took the Panel hearings as a pro forma exercise, a hoop to be jumped through and nothing more. When the hearings ended Nalcor retreated into the dark, empowered by the secrecy afforded them by their political masters.

    How and who will change Nalcor's attitude that none of the issues, contracts, oversight or dispute resolution is anyone's business? The incompetent Nalcor leadership remains firmly entrenched and well protected. This must change if solutions or meaningful community engagement can begin.

    Who exactly David, will Make Muskrat Right? Dwight Ball? Perry Trimper? Gilbert Bennett??!! The cautious 2041 crew? Polite analysis will continue to enable a Perpetual Muskrat Fright.

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    1. Paul Davis will make Muskrat right because if all of its problems occurred under his parties watch, surly the PCs must have all the answers and solutions as well.

      Finish the transmission lines and put a stop to the dam building itself until WMA, Stability of the Northern Spur and the remedies for the methylmercury are planned AND costed out - Act only after MF is finally given its due diligence, albeit 7 years later then it should have been.

      Have the PUB go forward on the basis the transmission line be finished and outline possible options including UC recall power, HQ PPA and Muskrat Falls for power supply.

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    2. A sensible way forward AC, that would minimize the pain to rate/taxpayers.

      Surely you jest about Paul Davis and the PC's having answers and solutions. They are after all the authors of the boondoggle. Perhaps King Danny will come over the hill from Gall-Way on a white steed to the rescue!

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  5. Can Muskrat be Made Right asks Dave Vardy. That is a good question, and I would say NO.
    Some time ago I heard mention of a book called The Rightest Mind. A read a summary which says that humans in general do not act on reason and logic, but on sentiment.
    Sentiment is an opinion or a belief that results from a feeling or emotion. That humans act mostly on sentiment seems in conflict with what we humans like to think of ourselves as being rational people, operating on the principle of logic.
    As an engineer, who depends on analysis, logic and reason, I nevertheless accept that reason and logic plays a lesser role in many decisions that effect us. For this reason, I came to the conclusion that Ed Hollett was wrong when he wrote that protests would have no meaningful effect on the Muskrat Falls decisions. After 4 years I could see that the arguments of the naysayers were going nowhere fast.
    One might reflect on the life of Gandhi, who organised protests, and went on hunger strikes. It took some 40 years, but the British Empire withdrew from India as a result of his peaceful means. And then there was Martin Luther King and his protests.
    Many professionals probably think is it undignified to protest. That written arguments based on logic and reason should prevail. Dave Vardy, Des Sullivan, Ed Hollet, Maurice Adams, Cabot Martin, and I (to a much less extent), and others have tried logic and reason for 4 years, with but very little success.
    An Inuit artist used sentiment. No doubt, his sentiment was based on reason and logic, perhaps assisted by those of us who trade in logic and reason. Jim Learning was jailed and went on hunger strike previously, when evidence of this boondoggle of Muskrat Falls was less apparent to many.
    It seems clear that the government in power do not respond to reason and logic, but are fearful of sentiment, and a growing (contained) anger by residents.
    We should not abandon the tools of reason and logic, but it is clear that only protests are effective, and that they must be peaceful protests.
    Premier Ball stated that the protests had no impact on the recent agreement to meet with the Labrador representatives to find a resolution to the mercury contamination issue. Is there anyone who believes him! The statement adds to his lack of integrity and honestly. It says to the Inuit artist, your sacrifice was of no value to your people. I know different. And so do most Nflers and Labradorians.
    Muskrat project cannot be made right, and, I suggest, more peaceful protests are needed to undo it. The first step, is as Des Sullivan suggests, put it on ice for a proper review, where logic and reason can be applied whether it should remain on ice forever.
    Winston Adams, Logy Bay

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    1. The title of the book should read The Righteous Mind
      WA

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    2. Further to the suggestion that reason and logic are not the most potent tools for decision making, the thesis says opinions are formed first and then reasons are make up to justify the decision. While this may seem silly, lets consider........
      Take the decision to go ahead and sanction Muskrat Falls. Stan Marshall says it was based on a bunch of false assumptions. How could so many false assumptions be made, and certainly not made with logic and reason. I recall Jerome Kennedy in the House of Assembly spouting the nonsense of selling excess power to New England on the spot market at 1 dollar per kwh (and Ed Martin called the gravy......some gravy!) We cannot sell it at 5 cents. There is the technical issue of power reliability and if salt might cause outages. Salt is NOT a contaminant said Nalcor (they now say otherwise). There is a long record (50 years) of outages on the Great Northern Peninsula from salt.Then there was the assumption of robust long term energy and demand growth on the island, growth that were not logical or reasonable, and which now have evaporated. There was the assumption that our existing housing stock had reached saturation for energy improvement, which was knowingly false to many in the field of housing, heating, and energy efficiency. It is clear that reason and logic was the criteria used, for these examples and many more ( the mercury issue, the unstable clay of the North Spur, the glut of natural gas in the USA, etc).
      So, if not reason and logic, what was the sentiment, that caused this sanction of Muskrat Falls one might ask. Danny`s Dream comes to mind. Anti-Quebec feelings also comes to mind. False pride comes to mind (that Nalcor was full of world class engineers and project managers). Feelings of a HAVE PROVINCE, that we could afford this project from what seemed to be endless oil revenue, and forgetting our past history of local corruption that caused us to lose our democracy in the 1930s. Feelings of greed, that this was a great money making opportunity, fully endorsed by the St. John`s Board of Trade. No doubt other sentiments were also at play.
      So whose mind was most RIGHTEOUS.........Danny Williams comes to mind, and he seems more alone than ever in his futile defence of his Dream. Winston Adams

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    3. You make excellent points, sir. I agreed with your analysis and unless and until we start looking for a real way out we are saddled as a people with this disaster. Any suggestions for mitigation, such as stopping the generation component make some sense to me, but generally, I think we've been had and we need to get out. Let Stan Marshall, Dwight Ball or somebody make the case for sticking with this mess or not I, not I for the world.

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  6. Thank you David, for your very timely analysis, of the continuing Boondoggle at the Muskrat.
    May you continue to bring important oversight to this matter, and produce a valued public service. Hopefully it is not too late to make things better. Making things "right" I fear is already gone downstream, so to speak.

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  7. WE need a movement. People need to believe they can have a say. The Williams government took away our power, ironically.

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  8. I have a funny feeling that the boondoggle known as Muskrat Falls probably included a few other boondoggles in our economy. For instance what was the reason for giving away Fisheries Products so that The Maritime provinces and Quebec could further expand their Fishing economies? Muskrat Falls itself appears to have been built to provide cheap electricity to Nova Scotians while the citizens of NL have to absorb more than a 100 per cent increase in their electric utility bills? Then there was the giveaway of the Fishery MPRs to please the European Union on the CETA deal. Did the Ottawa Government loan guarantee for Muskrat Falls depend on all of these probable boondoggles I mentioned here in this comment? I am very skeptical as the citizens of the province were not apprised of anything the PC government was up to while in power for 10 years. I suspect many of the PCs who were involved and others in the Canadian Government and Business Community became ultra riche from what was taken from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and given away so that the other provinces of Canada could prosper?

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  9. A very good column, as always, & we have a debt to Mr. Vardy and to those others who have raised serious and reasoned objections to this scheme. Our moderator should ask Mr. Williams for his views.

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  10. Muskrat cannot be made Right. But Vardy also asks whether it can be made Better.
    For Muskrat to be Right, it should offer power that is both affordable and reliable. It should also be reasonably safe as to the environment and the mercury issue ,and also for the North Spur to have a safety level, that residents in Goose Bay area do not fear a collapse that will cause drowning and substantial property damage. These are 4 major issues, and only one may get addressed, as a result from the recent protests. With the other 3 issues not addressed, Muskrat cannot be made RIGHT.
    Affordable power is the present rate of 9.8 cents per kwh. Muskrat at a 11.4 billion cost results in power from there at 55.49 cents per kwh,according to the Nalcor briefing report of June 24, 2016. Our present island hydro cost, combined with Holyrood thermal generation and some wind, gives us a retail cost of 9.8 cents. When mixing the cost of Muskrat and the existing , a blended cost of 21.4 cents is expected for the customer. This will be the highest in Canada, and more double what other hydro provinces charge; which range from 7 to 10 cents. With additional costs for addressing with the mercury issue , expect the 21.4 cents to climb to 21.9 cents. For the North Spur safey solution, expect another half cent per kwh. For upgrading Holyrood for reliability issues, add another half cent. For the reduction of power sales, as prices of power rise, the so called price elasticity factor, add 3 or 4 more cents per kwh to compensate for the reduced revenue. It seems obvious that the blended rate will exceed 25 cents per kwh if this project goes to completion. This is not affordable power. If if a lesser rate is charged, other taxes and levies must be imposed. On this this issue of affordable power, Muskrat cannot be made RIGHT, nor can it be made better. It will continue to get worse. When Bunker C oil for Holyrood was high, power there cost 19 cents. This is now 10 cents. The new gas turbine at Holyrood burns diesel. The cost this past winter was 29 cents per kwh. The old Tors Cove hydro, at About 7 megwatts in capacity , is being upgraged by Nfld Power . Its cost to produce power is 3 cents per kwh. The Upper Churchill power is now sold to Hydro Quebec for o.2 cents per kwh. Wind energy is 8 cents per kwh. Efficiency measures cost form 2 to 10 cents per kwh (which measures reduce energy use and peak demand reduction)
    On the issue of reliability: our expectation is that loss of power should not exceed 2.8 hours per year. Liberty has stated that the transmission from Labrador will be worse than Nalcor suggests. The details of this will be hammered out at the PUB hearings not starting until Jan 2017. Outages from Labrador can be expected to last, sometimes to 3 weeks , and at worse case, for months. Even short term outages will require bringing on many alternate power sources and reversing power flow to Nova Scotia, a complex and worse situation than now is typical. Everything would need to function like clockwork, which as recent outages show, often does not not work smoothly, and an outage escalates. Liberty has stated that Nfld Hydro operates with a culture of acceptance for rotating outages in this province that would not be tolerated elsewhere in North America. And this culture has not changed, says Liberty. On this issue, Muskrat is a boondoggle as Marshall says. It is doubtful if it can be made better, and if so , only at more and considerable cost.
    Vardy is correct, that the schedule delay on Muskrat of about 3 years offers an opportunity to assess the wisdom of proceeding or stopping. This applies to both the generation as well as the transmission line.


    Winston Adams

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  11. Superb analysis and very constructive approach! (This article is way over my humble competence I must admit)

    One more point to look into: "HOW TO OPERATE MUSKRAT EFFICIENTLY"

    Once that animal is up and running, how do get to produce electricity at a time when we need it? w/o a meaningful reservoir, MF is 100% dependant on the water flow coming from CF, and that flow varies a lot depending on HQ short notice demands. MF then receives that water flow like what, 36 hours afterward?

    Churchill Falls and Muskrat operations will have to be totally integrated to ensure optimal MF efficiency.

    I just hope Nalcor and HQ are talking constructively here, and that the prevalent anti-Québec minding is evacuated.

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    1. There will be times in the summer when there will be almost insufficient water flow for MF to meet the contract with Nova Scotia.

      Until the above is settle, the is no point to pursue MF right now. That should also give us some time to put the house in order, and set up an effective accountability framework for that project. (Internal Auditing language here...)

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  12. I am shocked to read the news on the death of RCMP officer Perry at Goose Bay. I just went to THE independent.ca online site. On reading that the Innu elders felt he had kept them save, I immediately thought it possible that he committed suicide, but thought he may have had serious health issues, a heart attack or something. As I read on, my concerns were confirmed, that he committed suicide. One should read the article and listen to the conversation that was filmed while the protest was on-going. It is clear to me that this officer was a hero in this struggle, with sympathy for the aboriginal people. He was a Nflder from Deer Lake. I fear he was at odds with his superiors on how to handle this situation, and paid the price from work stress. Interesting, just a few days earlier, news that lawsuits were being filed by male officers across Canada against the RCMP. What can one say..... a sorry state of affairs. An unexpected hero. Of course, there may have been other stress related issues at play here. That he did his best for the safely of the protesters is apparent. I truly feel sorry for his family. Winston Adams, Logy Bay

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  13. As the people of Labrador struggle to protect their river and water from contamination from an energy project, in Dakota, USA the Indians have been protesting since April to protect their river and water supply from the risk presented by a pipeline being constructed by a Texas company. So far some 400 have been arrested, including a journalist. Like here in Labrador, many protesters are women. The federal government has halted permits for construction, but the contractors and protesters continue and there is no end in sight. The police seems much less tolerant there. Whether in the USA or Canada, the aboriginals have suffered greatly for centuries. However environmentalists and ordinary citizens are more in support of their cause than in the past. The project in the USA, to carry oil to a refinery in Chicago is valued at 3.8 billion, so much less than the Muskrat Falls job. The British Guardian, a online newspaper is there providing international coverage. The protesters or journalists even use drones for filming. Some 90 tribes (one report said 200 tribes) from across the USA and Canada are in support of the protesters. In numbers, at times there have been a thousand or more, but generally little different than at Muskrat, with a hundred or so. The outcome there may be influenced by who becomes President. Reports say Donald Trump has connections to the owners of the pipeline. With modern communications it is now a small world. The action there is not that far from Custer met his maker, his last stand on a rise, where Custer and his men killed some 30 or 40 of their own horses as a barricade. Custer went to help protect prospectors who found gold, on land that was off bounds by treaty. It was a temporary victory for the Indians who soon abandoned their land and went north to Canada (a fact few realise). They were met by the Mounties, who gave Sitting Bull and his few hundred followers food and refuse for 2 or 3 years before they surrendered and returned. For a long time Custer was an American hero. Today he is not so honoured in the USA. While we avoided the Indian wars, our mistreatment of them is nevertheless very real. But attitudes are changing.
    Winston Adams

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