Monday, 14 August 2017

THE AG AND THE CONSUMER ADVOCATE DO THE PROVINCE A DISSERVICE

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary-wise; what it is, it wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?”

Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Only within the upside-down world of Alice would much of what is occurring in this province make any sense. Still, the behaviours of such an inverted some would say perverted place, their origins in the Premier’s Office, ought not to extend to our few institutions.

But they do.

Politics in NL has been turned upside down.

An excessive level of stupidity, denial and self-interest far more than normal has infected our political process. That the Ball Liberals have prolonged the madness begun by the Tories does not make it any less mad. It has been allowed to run through the senior bureaucracy, too try as the government might to create the perception of normalcy.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

COADY WRONG ABOUT NORTH SPUR REVIEW, SAYS SENIOR ENGINEER

Guest Post by James L. Gordon, P. Eng. (Ret’d)

THE NORTH SPUR DESIGN HAS NOT BEEN REVIEWED BY
MULTIPLE GEOSCIENCE ENGINEERS!

The presence of quick clay and soft sensitive clay has been known ever since the Spur was first investigated in 1965. Several consulting engineering companies have looked at the Spur and issued reports on their investigations. Many have proposed solutions to stabilize the Spur.

However, all this work can be regarded as preliminary since the geotechnical investigations were incomplete. None of the proposed solutions were “approved for construction”, nor intended to be. They were the first attempts to find a suitable solution to the instability demonstrated by the many landslides in the vicinity of the Spur, and on the Spur.

SNC have undertaken further geotechnical tests and have developed a design which has been “approved for construction”, and has been built.

However, the design has not been reviewed by senior geotechnical engineers with experience in sensitive and quick clay, contrary to the assertions of Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady.

Monday, 7 August 2017

NL NEEDS A REVOLUTION. YOU WILL HAVE TO LEAD IT.

NL needs a revolution. It’s just possible that the seeds of revolt are germinating. A recent VOCM “Question of the Day” Poll may have revealed such an undercurrent.

It wasn’t a scientific Poll in the tradition of CRA, MQO or one of the many market opinion research entities offering political parties and detergent retailers essential feedback.

Neither did it offer a representative sample of a defined population or even a statistical probability of accuracy (as in 19 times out of 20).

But it boasted three compelling components which, taken together, stand out: it was strikingly relevant, offered a choice of unambiguous answers, and attracted a high level of respondents in excess of 10,000.

The question read simply: What measures will you take if power rates continue to increase?

Thursday, 3 August 2017

THE RISE AND DECLINE OF CATHY BENNETT

When I wrote “Cathy Bennett’s Days in Finance Are Numbered” little more than ten months ago, I seriously doubted her tenure would last more than a few weeks.

I had assessed the province’s financial position and her first Budget. It was easy to see that the restraint measures she proposed — mostly increased taxation — were the work of a hapless political amateur delaying the axe-wielding necessitated by a widening fiscal chasm. 


The exigencies of politics demanded execution at the start of the government’s term. Even if one cared not a whit about the province’s finances, delay bore far more political landmines than decision.
Admittedly, the September piece had poorly assessed the importance of ego, partisanship and ambition over common sense. Still, in the circumstance, a savvy Minister of Finance should have presented an ill-equipped Premier the fiscal ultimatum commanded by a dreadful Tory legacy.

Monday, 31 July 2017

(REAL) RATE MITIGATION REQUIRES SPARKING THE LARGEST LAWSUIT IN CANADIAN HISTORY.

If you were disturbed by the Telegram Brian Jones’ “apocalyptic” editorial last week (finally, it seems, ‘mainstream’ meets blogger) which forecasts the inevitable shutdown of Muskrat Falls because it will prove to be too expensive to operate – you will be equally frightened by the fact that the Premier’s assertions around rate mitigation are grounded in ideas that are just as fraudulent as those that brought us this project.  


Of course, JONES IS RIGHT.  But that’s another story.
The province has limited wiggle room to escape the apocalyptic; so it's time to listen up. The smart money should anyway.
As if to prove he doesn’t get it, the Premier promises rate mitigation engaging a Committee which will include Nalcor letting the fakers, possibly fraudsters, extend the deceit that pervades the Muskrat Falls project.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

FLUNDERING JEEZE!

FLUNDERING JEEZE! 
(Urban Dictionary - Flunder: A repetitive nature to be a  _uck up.”)

The union of a flounder and a blunder is a flunder
(Flailing on the bottom in the mind):
Repeating same mistakes with no learning in the stunder;
Ferries and fisheries, roads, are all a kind. 

Monday, 24 July 2017

WHY WE SHOULD RESPECT THE INCARCERATED LABRADOR THREE

None of the people who are alleged to have falsified the estimates, and possibly other aspects of the so-called “business case” for the Muskrat Falls project, are in jail.

Some of those responsible are probably still permitted to wield power, enter into contracts, spend public money, earn large salaries, and if they have been deceitful cover their tracks.

Although the consequences of their actions will imperil the economy and cause enormous human pain, possibly for decades, the politicians from the Premier down have made excuses to protect them from being held to account.

They enjoy immunity while their mothership Nalcor is permitted to swear affidavits and call upon the judicial system to grant injunctions against protesters making a mockery of transparency and fairness in the bargain.    

Thursday, 20 July 2017

MEDIA FOCUS ON 'CHASE THE ACE' HAS UNCLE GNARLEY OUT OF SORTS

Uncle Gnarley is in a foul mood.

The old economist and Petty Harbour fisherman called up just the other day to wail that the “Chase the Ace” lottery in the Goulds is getting more traction than possible fraud at Nalcor.

That the CBC had stationed a reporter in the community for the whole day - and planned to go back on-air to chase the outcome - didn’t sit well with him. “Damn blasted,” he could be heard, “sure the crowd at 'Here and Now' probably think Muskrat is something to chase, too.

"A bunch of innocents thinking a church lottery makes better news than fooling people and squandering billions", he growled. 

He was not happy. And not because he didn’t have a ticket.

Yes, it’s July. And readers are likely saying ‘for the love of Pete, knock it off… we don’t care if Nalcor is responsible for every iceberg on the north-east coast as long as winter is over by Regatta Day!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

BARD OF PYNN'S BROOK TAKES ON MUSKRAT - IN VERSE, OF COURSE

Editor's Note: John Tuach, a geologist, is well-known to the mining and mineral exploration industry. It seems, in addition to a keen skill for staking promising mineral claims, he has a talent for poetry - of which I was unaware. Known to most only by his surname, Tuach, the 'bard of Pynn's Brook', has written several of what he calls "Muskrat rants". They can be found at www.jinglejohn.com .The Uncle Gnarley Blog has never considered the appointment of a Poet Laureate - always thinking playwright, never settling on whether comedy or tragedy. But Tuach - in verse - sets one to thinking!

Monday, 17 July 2017

MUD LAKE VS. PENNECON: GIVING PROFIT A BAD NAME

When Barnard Pennecon LP was asked to comment on a letter which a senior company executive wrote to Nalcor, blaming them for the Mud Lake flood, it denied that the letter reflected its official position on the issue.


On Monday, July 10, 2017 the Uncle Gnarley Blog released a series of quotations contained in the one-page letter from the North and South Dam contractor. The executive told Nalcor that had it exercised “reasonable diligence [it] could have prevented the blockade by properly managing the downstream flows.”


The flood triggered a gate blockade at the entrance to the project; protestors blamed Nalcor for the flooding.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

FILLED RESERVOIR WILL CAUSE NORTH SPUR TO FAIL, STUDY PREDICTS

Guest Post by James L. Gordon, P.Eng. (Ret'd)

THE MUSKRAT NORTH SPUR WILL FAIL!

Mr. Robin Dury, an engineering student at the LuleĆ„ University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, INSA Lyon, has undertaken a geotechnical analysis of the North Spur as part of his studies towards a Master’s degree in Geotechnical Engineering. He concludes that –

For assumed material properties and geometries of failure, the critical load-carrying capacity is below 1000 kN/m whereas a rise of the water level with 21 m (to El. 39m) will give an increased load of Nq  = 2420 kN/m. This is more than twice of what the ridge may stand with the assumed properties.

In other words, the North Spur will fail when the reservoir is filled.

Monday, 10 July 2017

NEW WHISTLEBLOWER REVEALS NALCOR RESPONSIBLE FOR MUD LAKE FLOODING

A new whistleblower has contacted the Uncle Gnarley Blog — shedding new light on who is responsible for the severe flooding and evacuation of the community of Mud Lake in May.

The confidential source has leaked a copy of a letter sent by Bernard Pennecon LP, the contractor building the North and South Dams, to Nalcor’s subsidiary, Muskrat Falls Corporation. The document states that the event was due to Nalcor’s “failure to manage the downstream flows which resulted in the flooding of the Mud Lake Community.” (Bold added to all direct quotes from the Barnard Pennecon letter.)
The letter dated 23-May-2017 was given exclusively to the Uncle Gnarley Blog.

In January another whistleblower, the "Anonymous Engineer", gave the Uncle Gnarley Blog details of how the estimates for the Muskrat Falls project had been falsified in Nalcor's bid to get sanction, a process which continued until after the 2015 General Election.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

ANONYMOUS ENGINEER SAYS ED MARTIN'S STATEMENT MAKES NO SENSE

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a Guest Post written by the whistleblower, who I have dubbed the "Anonymous Engineer". He originally disclosed – on this Blog - falsification of the estimates for the Muskrat Falls project on January 30, 2017 . At that time, his comments were recorded in a post entitled Muskrat Cost Estimates "A Complete Falsification". A second post called Muskrat: Allegations of Phony Cost Estimates provided significant additional details of both low-balled estimates at sanction and even after sanction. — Des Sullivan

Guest Post by the "Anonymous Engineer"
I read Ed Martin’s “Statement” of June 26th, 2017 with a sense of regret and dismay. Regret – because it represents  an accelerated demise from an exalted position; dismay – as most of the “Statement” made no sense.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

VARDY/PENNEY SEEK EXPERT PANEL ON NORTH SPUR

Guest Post by David Vardy and Ron Penney

The recently released SNC Lavalin risk assessment report identifies the dearth of geo-technical investigations as one of the highest risks of the Muskrat Falls project. In his Uncle Gnarley post of June 29, 2017 Cabot Martin cites this report to confirm his claim that the North Spur is one of the major threats to the project and to the people living and working close to the site. The SNC report refers to “major scope change.” Cabot states:

Now “major scope change“ with regard to an admittedly unstable dam component like the North Spur is engineer code for “Your proposed North Spur stabilization design could be unsafe and to make it safe will require as yet unknown and un-costed extra work.”

And also unstated is that geotechnical conditions may be found (like Quick Clay) which will in effect be impossible to cure.

Monday, 3 July 2017

PUBLIC SHOULD BE AFRAID OF POSSIBLE CORRUPTION

SNC-Lavalin was responsible from the start in devising the financing strategies and engineering design for development of the Muskrat Falls project. When such a company throws down the gauntlet to its employer, Nalcor detailing incompetence, a lack of technical and logistical readiness, and recklessness and neither Nalcor nor the Provincial Government performs their duty and investigates, it is time for the public to step in.

Describe it as one might, but the public interest is under attack on an unprecedented scale.

The evidence, detailed in a 2013 Risk Assessment Report only now brought to light by CEO Stan Marshall illuminates a Government seemingly incapable of responding to the allegations against its own crown corporation. Those accusations, by any standard, constitute the worst crisis that has faced a public sector agency since Confederation.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

SOME NOTES ON HOW THE MUSKRAT SCHEME IS FALLING APART

Guest Post by Cabot Martin

We now approach the Muskrat tipping point.

It will be painful – a prospect emphasised by the recent release of the SNC-Lavalin May 17, 2013 Risk Assessment Report following on the revelations of the “Anonymous Engineer” on pre-sanction “book cooking”  as first revealed on Uncle Gnarley.
Stand by for more and escalating leaks.

But the surest sign of the coming storm is the return to public airways of one Ed Martin, former Nalcor CEO.
Like a character in poorly made sequel of a powerful horror movie, Mr. Martin continued on CBC TV to spout the same sort of World Class nonsense that has helped put us in our present terrible Muskrat bind.

Monday, 26 June 2017

PREMIER'S CLAIMS ABOUT FORENSIC AUDIT ARE FALSE SAYS ANONYMOUS ENGINEER

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a Guest Post written by the whistleblower, referred to as the "Anonymous Engineer", who originally disclosed falsification of the estimates for the Muskrat Falls project on January 30, 2017 in a post entitled Muskrat Cost Estimates "A Complete Falsification", says Engineer, in a second post on February 6, 2017 called Muskrat: Allegations of Phony Cost Estimates, and to the CBC in early May. This piece is his direct appeal to the Premier and Minister Coady for a Forensic Audit of the Muskrat Falls project. Des Sullivan

Premier’s and Minister Coady’s statements are false – June 23rd, 2017
The statements made by the Premier Dwight Ball and Minister Coady at the televised press conference on June 23rd, 2017 are false. The Premier stated that performing a Forensic Audit, now, will delay the project. He made an array of other false claims, evidently with an intent specifically to delay a Forensic Audit as long as possible. There is not a grain of truth in these claims.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

BRIAN PECKFORD'S WAKE-UP CALL


It was a somewhat older, less feisty, more comfortably confident Brian Peckford who ascended the stage as guest speaker at the closing of NOIA’S 40thconference. But time had not altered his powers of communication or any of his enormous capacity to be singular with his audience, to entertain them and, concomitantly, to leave them feeling slightly less comfortable than when they first sat down.

As an ‘old’ staffer of Premier Peckford, in the 1970s and 80s (full disclosure), I had watched the performance many times, often jealously the rapport quickly established, the bond of trust unmistakable, all given an articulation that found clarity only because it was as physical and emotional as it was verbal. Like him or hate him many did both, and some at the same time he was a master storyteller.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

SIOBHAN COADY'S BEHAVIOUR PUZZLING

When the Minister of Natural Resources, Siobhan Coady, released the report of the Muskrat Falls Oversight Committee last Friday the first in fifteen months she tried to leave the media, and the public, with the impression that a new impetus was at work in matters of oversight.

The Minister was not being honest.

Given the evidence that, both prior to sanction and afterwards, the MF project estimates were falsified, it is reasonable to think that the Minister would not want to be mired in the deceitful culture that has grown up around Nalcor and her Department. But the Minister demonstrates no such caution.

It is one thing to say, as she has, that the government has questions about the project estimates, as did the whistleblower engineer. But a verbal expression of concern, alone, is not enough.

One might expect that Coady would not only want to know the origins of the alleged deceitfulness, and who is responsible, but that she might set new standards of disclosure for her officials to follow.

She has shown no interest in doing any of those things.

Monday, 19 June 2017

NL POLITICS: THE STATE OF PLAY

The latest poll from CRA does little more than reaffirm prior perceptions held by the public about the Premier and the Ball Administration.

The polling group found that 34% of decided voters supported the Liberals, 40% backed the PCs, while 24% stood behind the NDP.

Two other statistics offer confirmation that the Liberals are in deep trouble: satisfaction with the government stands at only 28%, while in leader preference Dwight Ball receives 23% support against 36% for PC leader Paul Davis and 16% for Earle McCurdy of the NDP.

The results essentially mirror those reported when Ball’s popularity dropped off a cliff last year.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

TIME TO CHANGE UNNECESSARY ELECTION LAW

Guest Post by Kelly Populous

Imagine a law so badly misunderstood that politicians and parties tolerate an unwanted, unpopular premier in order to avoid an election. A government without the political capital to change important public policy becomes trapped with unwanted leadership and winds up paralyzed. The public grows more apathetic or, worse, angry... and the whole province suffers as a result.

The scenario would seem crazy if Newfoundland and Labrador hadn't already suffered through it under Kathy Dunderdale. Now, with Dwight Ball flailing badly as the province’s First Minister, it seems that we have lost the ability to determine a course to provide renewal of the province's political leadership. 

It does not have to be that way.

Monday, 12 June 2017

SIOBHAN COADY: WAITING FOR GODOT?

Waiting For Godot is a celebrated play by Samuel Beckett in which two characters, Valdimir and Estragon, are waiting for a person Godot who never arrives. The Ball Administration serves as parody for the tragicomedy. Like the government, as one writer says of Waiting For Godot, “the sheer emptiness and randomness of the plot causes the audience (or reader) to wonder if anything is going to happen”.


Ball and Coady especially resemble Valdimir and Estragon though possibly the tramps, Didi and Gogo, too because, like them, they seem to have no part to play.  


Our play departs from Beckett’s a little, but only because Coady can expect an appearance from the Auditor General, just not with the package she pretends he is carrying.


The Minister knows he will offer no guidance on the “falsification” issue over which Nalcor’s whistleblower has sounded the alarm. Her performance is simply the pretense that he will.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

EY REPORT CONFIRMS NEED FOR FORENSIC AUDIT SAYS WHISTLEBLOWER

"Falsification of information on a massive scale.” That’s what the Anonymous Engineer told the Uncle Gnarley Blog in January, 2017 about the estimates for the Muskrat Falls project.

The public now awaits follow through by the Premier and the Minister of Natural Resources on his call for a forensic audit. The audit would detail the origins and extent of the “low-balled” estimates and confirm whose signature(s) authorized their use.

In a conversation with him recently, the engineer reflected upon his disclosure and the response of the Government. Said he:

“Even though Minister Siobhan Coady has already indicated she accepts what I have said as part of the narrative and that she has questions, too, the Minister must know my warning was completely supported by the EY Interim Report, which the Government commissioned.”

Monday, 5 June 2017

FLAWED HUSKY DEAL GOES LARGELY UNREPORTED

If any member of the public as much as frowned last Monday when the Ball Government and Husky Energy announced agreement on the White Rose Extension project, they might have risked exile to the Funks or worse. Politicians, industry officials, hangers-on, the compradors (fixers and agents) and, of course, the media were all found ‘cheek to jowl’. 

Ditched, along with the champagne corks, was even the tiniest bit of perspective on the flawed deal even if, admittedly, it was an important one.

There is no question that the failure of OPEC to keep prices as high as Ed Martin had decreed, the end of the Vale and Hebron projects, and the consequent downturn in the housing sector, have everyone longing for the good “old” days. But economic challenges are not a time for governments to lose their minds, or embrace a future with a duration running only until the next election.

Siobhan Coady seemed within a nudge of shouting “we got it”, her restraint tethered only by the star of Galway who long ago appropriated the phrase with dubious claim.

The truth is the Premier and the Minister had only Husky’s ‘win’ to announce.  

Thursday, 1 June 2017

WHO IS DWIGHT BALL AFRAID OF?

When malfeasance on a grand scale is alleged against senior government officials by credible people, what are we to make of it?

According to Stan Marshall, the decisions were directed at a senior level, but he says he doesn’t know who is responsible and doesn’t want to find out.

Yet the consequences are enormous. NL society has been laden with an unspeakable debt and a failed project, fallout from which will cause great social and financial pain over many decades.

The situation begs another question: do the authorities have an obligation to investigate and to hold the complicit to account, in keeping with the laws of civil society?

Is the Ball Administration’s seeming disinterest in the matter proof that what is still if only barely obscure should remain that way; that a higher standard applies to those wielding power?

We will return to this question. 

Monday, 29 May 2017

HALF-TRUTHS AND LIES: THE MEDIA SHOULD TRIPLE CHECK NALCOR'S "FACTS"

A bit of an odd story by CBC’s Terry Roberts, entitled No formal talks for ‘energy transactions’ with Nova Scotia says Nalcor (May 22nd), was seemingly intended to recognize the opportunity afforded Newfoundland by the impending completion of the Maritime Link (ML).

Roberts found Emera’s Rick Janega and Nalcor’s Stan Marshall in a celebratory mood about the savings opportunity available from “displacing costly Holyrood power by importing electricity from the Maritimes”.
The CBC story caught my attention because it has some understated and missing pieces.
The completion of the ML might result in some short-term savings for just three or four months. But by year's end, the Labrador Island Link (LIL) will be also be ready, if Stan Marshall is to be believed. This event will allow transmission to the Island of the unused portion of the Recall power from the Upper Churchill. But the commissioning will also trigger a levy on ratepayers for a large portion of the debt raised to build the Muskrat Falls project.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

ANONYMOUS ENGINEER HAS ADVICE FOR AUDITOR-GENERAL

Some critics of the Muskrat Falls project, including this scribe, had hoped that the Auditor-General (A-G) might review the activities of Nalcor several years ago. Confronted directly on the issue, during a presentation on the province’s fiscal position at Memorial, the A-G excused his Office based upon a limited budget and a shortage of resources.

Then in November, 2016 Terry Paddon – with no evident change in those resources - suddenly got energized. He told the media he now planned “to take a look at Nalcor Energy (and) possibly Muskrat Falls."

The focus of the A-G has to be sharp and precise. In this instance to investigate the allegations of estimate falsification of Muskrat Falls.

In its Mission Statement the A-G’s Office states:

"As legislative auditors, we audit financial statements and other accountability documents, evaluate management practices and control systems, and determine compliance with legislative and other authorities.

Our purpose is to promote accountability and encourage positive change in the stewardship, management and use of public resources".

Contrary to the stated “Mission” there has not been any response from the Office of the A-G on anything.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

STAN MARSHALL INTERVIEW WITH GERMAIN NARROWS FIELD OF CULPRITS

The CBC report of an anonymous senior Nalcor engineer - who claims that low-balled estimates were used to obtain sanction for the Muskrat Falls project - has, again, shed light on a Crown Corporation that, sometime after 2009, went rogue.

The engineer’s allegations are now well-known, but Nalcor’s response – specifically Anthony Germain's interview – finds a retirement-minded CEO indicating casual indifference to what can only be described as the most serious accusations ever leveled at the government since Confederation. 

The CBC quoted the senior engineer using the words “absurdly low” to describe the estimates. In my Blog Post of February 2017, the same engineer used the word “falsification”.

Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall described the estimates as “unrealistic”.

“Absurdly low”, “falsification” and “unrealistic” – any difference is fundamentally meaningless.

In this context it is important to remember that we are not discussing the replacement of a culvert in Bung Hole Tickle. Estimating a multi-billion dollar project is complex work. It also goes through multiple layers of review – each time by a group more senior. 

Monday, 15 May 2017

OF DECEIT, EMERA AND MUSKRAT MADNESS

GUEST POST WRITTEN BY CABOT MARTIN

Close observers of things Muskrat are by now getting used to troubling news regarding this benighted project.

However, the most recent Uncle Gnarley posts building on revelations first made by a former Muskrat Falls project engineer (aka the Unknown Engineer) on UncleGnarley on January 30, 2017 must have shocked even the most cynical.

Seriously - are we talking about someone playing fast and easy with the numbers?

If true, would be big time shit.

Then came last Wednesday’s stellar CBC St. John’s Morning Show interview by Anthony Germain featuring the disguised voice of the “Unknown Engineer” repeating on the public airwaves his astounding assertions ending with a call for a “Forensic Audit” of the manner in which the Muskrat project costs were prepared.

The next day Mr. Germain followed up with an extended interview on the mechanics of a Forensic Audit with financial wiz Larry Short – all of which served to turn up the heat on this issue in dramatic fashion. 

Thursday, 11 May 2017

WILL THE A-G PROBE FALSIFICATION OF MUSKRAT COST ESTIMATES?

Guest Post by David Vardy and Ron Penney

Breaking news from the CBC casts new light on Muskrat Falls!

On January 30, 2017 Uncle Gnarley posted on the falsification of estimates, drawing upon allegations made by a Nalcor engineer, who said that

I could not put up with falsifying information anymore.To begin with, the original cost of $6.2 billion on which the project was approved was a complete falsification. The estimate was deliberately kept low — below $7 billion, so as to appear favourable relative to the cost of thermal power generation.

The likely costs were known about three years ago, but Nalcor Management kept it a secret, steadfastly denying that there were major schedule delays and cost overruns, until it was no longer possible to hide the true status with the election of a new Provincial Government.

Monday, 8 May 2017

TIME FOR ENGINEERS' ASSOCIATION TO BE HELD TO ACCOUNT ON MUSKRAT

First, I have to relate a little story which will provide some additional context to the purpose of this item. 

Back in October 2014, during the visit of Dr. Stig Bernander who came to the province to conduct field work along the Lower Churchill River, I woke up one morning to find the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland (APEGN) in pursuit of the Professor. The email read that APEGN was trying to contact Dr. Bernander so that the association could cite him for having used “P. Eng.” – the designation which is for the proprietary use of APEGN.

Evidently, APEGN had received a complaint from one of its members - following an advertisement I had posted in the Telegram. The advertisement was placed for the sole purpose of inviting the public to the Bernander Lecture scheduled for presentation at the LSPU Hall. The complaining engineer noted that Bernander had not registered with APEGN and was therefore unqualified to use the engineering designation.

Admittedly, I thought the email peculiar. After all, the octogenarian Professor had come here, pro bono, in response to an important public matter, the North Spur. I thought it rather ungracious – to say the least – that he should be tracked down so that a fee could be collected.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

ENGINEERS' COMPETENCE TO PRACTICE QUESTIONED

Guest Post By James L. Gordon, P. Eng. (Ret'd) 
On May 1st, I read with mounting astonishment the aDB Engineering report dated April 20, 2017, on their investigations into the causes of the collapse, which occurred on 29th May, 2016.

The level of incompetence described in the report is so widespread that it brings into question the integrity of all other structures in the development. All staff, from carpenters to engineers are included within the ranks of the incompetent. The sub-standard construction was clearly visible to all, but nothing was done to rectify the errors.

The collapse occurred in the lower portion of the draft tube as shown on the following Figure1, copied from Figure 2 in the aDb report. In this area, the water passage changes from a vertical expanding cone to an almost horizontal expanding rectangle as shown in Figure 2. It is the most complex double-curved shape in the project and very difficult to build.
For small turbines, the shape is formed in timber, with an east coast shipwright engaged as the carpenter foreman. A shipwright carpenter is the only person capable of cutting and shaping the timber to the required complex shape.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

WHY THE BERN COFFEY AFFAIR IS BEWILDERING

The Bern Coffey debacle is mind-boggling. But it leaves two important facts exposed.

First, Ball approved the untenable arrangement with Coffey permitting him to continue his law practice. It is one thing to allow for a winding-up period, quite another for the Clerk of the Executive Council to be moonlighting - in a court of law where he would be obligated to argue against his employer.  

Second, just as the Government was taking some initiative to hold Nalcor to account, the brutally incompetent Crown Corporation has, again, been let off the hook as far as the MF Oversight Committee is concerned.

With Coffey’s intervention, the Committee had finally gotten two capable members. Likely, the appearance of three ‘naysayers’ on the Muskrat file was causing some people to sweat. Likely, Coffey was outed but he and Ball ought never to have afforded Nalcor - or the Opposition - that opportunity.

Now, the former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources under Dunderdale - who played messenger for Ed Martin, sending Nalcor's requisitions to Cabinet - is head of the Oversight Committee. Ball confirms, again, he is gutless.

Monday, 1 May 2017

BE CAREFUL COMPARING MUSKRAT WITH TROUBLED HYDRO PROJECTS ELSEWHERE

Site C Hydro Project, B.C.
Hydro projects underway in British Columbia and Manitoba are making waves among observers, all drawing parallels with the Muskrat Falls project. While there are many similarities, the public should be careful in concluding that Muskrat is entirely their mirror image.

Each has origins inextricably tied to gung-ho engineers, compliant bureaucrats, and politicians unwilling to subject self-serving assumptions and overbearing risk to professional and objective review. This is bad enough, except Muskrat will be forever dogged by the deceit that underscored project sanction.

We’ll come back to that point, but others are also instructive.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

DRAGGING THE REPORT ON THE FORMWORKS COLLAPSE OUT OF NALCOR

Nalcor V-P Gil Bennett
One worker was taken to hospital and seven others received first aid on May 29, 2016 when a major section of the formworks collapsed, during a concrete pour at the site of the powerhouse on the Muskrat Falls project. 

Nalcor V-P Gilbert Bennett promised a full investigation and report. One year later, Nalcor is still ragging the puck, although following some poking and prodding from this scribe there are signs that one is finally forthcoming.  

The report ought to have been on Gil Bennett's desk within at most 48 hours of the collapse. In the real world of construction not the one Gil inhabits, but certainly on the Hebron GPS (which reported no lost time accidents) real managers and their senior bosses demand no less.