Thursday, 13 July 2017


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


Mr. Robin Dury, an engineering student at the Luleå 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.

Mr. Dury presented his 78-page thesis on June 7th, 2017. He described the work as follows -
The work with the thesis has been conducted under the guidance of Emeritus Professor Lennart Elfgren, Structural Engineering, and Professor Jan Laue, Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, Luleå University of Technology, LTU. I am grateful to them for their help and commitment. I also wish to express my gratitude to Dr. Stig Bernander for the time and effort he took in sharing his knowledge on progressive landslides with me.

Mr. Dury went to the engineering school INSA de Lyon to study civil engineering. After 4 years spent at INSA Lyon where he studied mostly geotechnics and structural analysis, he went in 2016 to Luleå Tekniska Universitet in order to do his last year of Master Degree before graduation. Then he wrote this thesis at the Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering.

The mathematical analysis in the thesis is far too complicated to describe, as indicated by the following extract for two typical equations –

Hence the thesis will be described in non-technical terms as far as possible. All quotations from the thesis are in bold italics. The summary states -

The so called Muskrat Falls Project consists in the ongoing construction of a hydroelectric power plant in Churchill River Valley, Labrador, Canada. The site hosting the project includes a land ridge which is supposed to be used as a natural dam and thus be submitted to important water pressures. Yet, previous landslides in the area have shown that a stability analysis is worth to be carried out in order to ensure the safety of the facility.

Until now, investigations have only been carried out using the traditional limit equilibrium method and related elastic-plastic theory. For the sake of simplicity, this approach does not take into account deformations outside and inside the sliding body. However, because of the soil features in Churchill River Valley and particularly its ‘deformation softening’ behavior, there is increasing evidence that the conventional analysis is not relevant in this situation. Further, when analyzing the total stability of the ridge, only a horizontal failure surface has been used and not an inclined one, which is very optimistic and rather unrealistic.

The difference between the LEM and the Dury analysis, is that the LEM methodology only assesses the stability of the dam slopes, determining a safety factor against slips or a slope failure. On the other hand, the Dury analysis looks at the entire Spur from upstream water level to downstream water level, assessing the stability to resist the horizontal force imposed on the Spur by the full reservoir water. The two analysis are not comparable.

In order to provide a more reliable study, a progressive failure analysis has been performed according to the finite difference method of Dr. Stig Bernander. The development of a spreadsheet adapted to this particular problem has allowed getting quickly and easily numerical results for several cases of study and assumptions. 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 22 m (to El. 39.0m) will give an increased load of Nq = 0,5 gw Hd 2 = 0,5∙10∙22 2 = 2420 kN/m. This is more than twice of what the ridge may stand with the assumed properties.

The investigation has led to the conclusion that the situation will be risky for many combinations of soil properties if the water level is raised as high as initially planned. The investigation also shows that more material tests are necessary and that stabilization work may be needed to eliminate the risk for a landslide.

In other words, the geotechnical analysis undertaken by SNC cannot be used on the soils in the North Spur, and a more detailed analysis is required as advocated by Dr. Bernander as applicable to sensitive clays. This is due to the reduction in strength when the sensitive soil is subjected to significant deformation under load, not included in the current method of analysis.

In sensitive soils, the failure mode has two stages –

Stage I: After an elastic phase with shear strength up to the linear limit, a plastic phase begins and the peak value c is reached. This last event corresponds to the beginning of the formation of the slip surface.

Stage II: A decline in strength occurs until only the residual strength remains and the slope finally collapses.

Nalcor has performed its own stability analysis by using the traditional limit equilibrium method (LEM). The main issue is that this procedure is not justifiable for soils having such a high porosity. In fact, high porous materials have a ‘deformation softening’ behavior far from the perfect elastic plastic behavior assumed with the LEM. Thus, the analysis and safety factors calculated by Nalcor cannot be reliable.

The computer model developed for the analysis broke the North Spur section into a mesh of triangles where the strength and deformation of each triangle was calculated to determine the safety factor against failure. This resulted in -

Safety Factor - The safety factor related to local failure in this case is defined as:
Fs = Ncrit/Nq = 981.7/2420 = 0.38

The safety factor would have to be quadrupled to achieve a safety factor above 1.5 in order to avoid a failure, as recommended in the Canadian Dam Safety guidelines.

In view of this result it is now absolutely essential to convene a North Spur Review Board to determine the natural dam safety factor and the remedial measures required to ensure stability.

Jim Gordon, PEng. (Retired)
Editor's Note: Partly in connection with the conclusion of the Thesis referred to in Jim Gordon's Piece, and as a follow up to earlier demands made of government regarding the safety and stability of the North Spur, the Labrador Land Protectors and the Grand River Keepers sent a new "Open Letter" to Premier Dwight Ball on July 12, 2017. The letter was aalso ccompanied by attachments which readers may want access.  A Link to the Thesis is found here. An abstract of the Thesis is found here.  A copy of the "Open Letter" to Premier Dwight Ball and "Structure Document" explaining both the rationale and an acceptable Panel formation is also provided.


  1. Excellent overview of Mr. Dury's report.

    Readers may also be interested in reading my January 2016 letter to The Telegram wherein I discussed the danger of a significant increase in the water pressure on the North Spur upstream slope ----

    1. Also see "Nalcor mum on questions about the North Spur" ---

  2. The 18 billion to complete, that has been banded about, does that include this kind of work on the north spur to avoid failure. Think you mentioned in your last Winston. But, can't get my mind around where NALCOR can get another 6 billion. There are no lenders for that kind of financing and Ottawa is not that stunned to guarantee that kind of cash. So the best solution is to run out of financing before completion. NALCOR declear bankruptcy... Does that in any way get us off the hook. Just asking....

    1. Reminds me of Come by Chance Refinery, built to run in reverse, went into bankruptcy, financing found to re-design, rebuild, operate. $$$.

  3. Earth dams also fail in BC.

    Welcome to the Site C casino, where the costs are also adding up.

  4. I would not toss out traditional engineering practice too quickly. Everyone is big on tradition these days. Nonetheless it might be worthwhile for Nalcor at this juncture to accept responsibility for the flooding at Mud Lake and relocate those people to higher ground and as well relocate people in other areas that would be at flood risk from failure of this dam.

    1. And would be definitely worthwhile to stop this dam madness (we don't need the power, we don't control the water flow, we don't have the money, we don't have acceptable risk, we don't have the right to destroy the food supply, culture and health of people, we don't have the right take away the future of our children and grand children, etc., etc. ---- for what? to placate the overblown ego and the pocket books of the few that control oir political parties)

    2. I agree, traditional engineering has its place, however, any competent engineer should agree that this result more than warrants further investigation. I am engineer,and if I were working on this project, there would be no way I could put my faith in it without further analysis. Frankly I am stunned that they decided to move forward with the project given these purported results.

    3. Thank you for your passionate summary Maurice. It is madness, deadly madness it now appears. Will some sanity appear and a halt to this time bomb happen now?

      The odds don't look good considering that as as Maurice points out sound engineering, need, cost were all irrelevant. The politics and political bullies ruled and steamrollered any opposition.

      Like in the 1920's the affiliation with the feudal political class transcends party or loyalty to the electorate. Will history repeat around the spur catastrophe or will a champion of sanity and fiscal responsibility appear?

      It is time to act!

    4. The wannabe leader of the PC Party (Ches Crosbie), by calling for an all-party committee to frame an inquiry shows he is not his own man, but a product of the past, an outgrowth of the old feudal political class.

      And now (at this stage) we have the CFIB calling for the PUB to do oversight on the project. Too little, too late me thinks, and a way to put off an inquiry/forensic audit, review panel, etc.

      Embarrassing (another tool to keep the project going till finish).

    5. Just issue a stop work order.

      There must be many public safety and environmental issues available to Stop Work!

    6. Or, you know, Nalcor could not flood communities that have existed since long before Muskrat Fails was a glimmer in Danny and Eddies' eyes.

    7. Normally the person responsible for Safety on Site, has the authority to issue a stop work order, when Safety and/or the Environment are shown to be compromised . Does anyone know who this person is?

    8. Normally the person responsible for Safety on Site, has the authority to issue a stop work order, when Safety and/or the Environment are shown to be compromised . Does anyone know who this person is?Me thinks this person may be taking home two paychecks!

    9. Ches' all party committee shows he isn't going to be any better then the "leaders" we have had since 2000 here in NL. Never has a more unqualified bunch existed as NL MHAs to review Boondoggle Falls, simply out of their depth.

      NF power and Fortis have also been silent on MF and are just as responsible as Nalcor and Hydro for its disaster. Only recently admitting sharp price increases in electricity will see a demand decline whereas that's common sense. NFPs silence was the same as admitting all of Nalcor's data was 100% correct and they trusted them.
      CFIB are late to the game $180M more in costs PLUS $400M+ in ratepayers cost of excessive rates is $600M less for customers. 3-4% of ALL disposable income in NL is the cost of MF 23c kWh electricity rates.

  5. Or is that Torpedo the Dam?

  6. Nobody should be living downstream of this dam. It will be like the sword of Damocles waiting to fall at any time. If it doesn't fail immediately, all it will take is a small earth tremor to liquefy the quick clay. If it is to be finished no matter what, then we need to relocate everything downstream and then declare the area a wildlife preserve / danger zone. Of course, once the dam fails, the generation facility is a huge stranded asset. The obviously solution to the mess is to stop the dam immediately and cut our losses. The failure of the North Spur will earn us a place in the history books along with major engineering disasters like the Quebec bridge.

    1. So Stan, what project contingency for "unforeseen costs" are we carrying in estimated cost to complete now?

      Will you still be on the job when the Operator takes over, and the reservoir is filled? Is the Operator on the job already? What are this person's credentials?

    2. How much are you willing to pay to relocate Happy Valley and Mud Lake, with their combined thousands of residents, business, institutions, and public facilities?

      Where do you propose moving them?

    3. And will the NL public be on the hook for that too?

  7. Government should take this decision out of Nalcor's hands by taking immediate action to appoint a panel of geo-technical experts, rather than waiting until a catastrophic event occurs. The warning signs are loud and clear!

    The conclusion is that the methodology used to assess the safety of the North Spur is inadequate and risk of failure is high.

    I recommend you watch the Rissa video. It can be found at . Anyone who has not watched this video cannot understand how serious a problem we are dealing with. By happenstance, someone was on the ground at Rissa with a video recorder when it all began and managed to preserve a record of a series of landslides and the collapse of a hill about the length of the North Spur.

    The Rissa landslides began on April 29, 1978. The trigger event was the piling of ground that had been excavated in digging a basement, on the riverbank. This set in motion a quick series of slides, getting larger and larger, and collapsing into the water with incredible speed. Houses and farms were swallowed up in the turbulent waters, roiled by the slides.

    To quote from the thesis, in the Muskrat Falls project “the triggering agent would essentially be the water pressure which will increase” (p. 39) because the water will rise from 17 m to 39 m. Imagine the weight of water bearing on the Spur! “On the basis of the outcome of this study, we can affirm that the North Spur does not form a safe and reliable part of the impoundment wall.” (p.44)

    The tragic consequences of a failure at the North Spur could be much greater than the damage arising from the landslides at Rissa.

    The other essential video to watch is the Facebook video of the February meeting in Labrador of the Labrador Land Protectors with the Premier and four MHAs. It can be found at . Only by watching this video can people on the Island gain some small understanding of the existential threat which the North Spur poses to people who live close to Muskrat Falls.

    The April 2013 SNC Lavalin risk assessment noted the lack of geo-technical work placed the project in a high risk category. Whether Nalcor’s work from April 2013 has been effective in mitigating this risk can only be ascertained through the work of the expert panel of geo-scientists, which must be appointed by government independently of Nalcor.

    Maybe the North Spur is the hill on which Muskrat Falls will die? It may be impossible or non-economic to remediate. If such is the case the generation component may have to be terminated and written off as a horrible mistake!

    David Vardy

    1. Vardy:

      I would ask does our government have the knowledge to appoint a qualified review panel? And what type of bench testing and desktop analysis needs to accompany the field work?

      I am not sure most have the ability to understand the resumes of the Zakeris, Popescus, Horiis et al of the field.... The experience and academia level required for this type of analysis is is very deep---any of us geotechs can identify the issue, but few can solve it....

      I agree 100% that an indepth analysis is needed---just not sure who I would nominate to participate if I were asked that question....

    2. Mr. Vardy, many thanks for providing the link to that most interesting yet quite perturbing youtube video.

      I've frequently stated in less-than-wry terms that NLers would be much better off being governed by the competent and practical Norwegians... rather than than the homegrown crop of inept dimwits and dodgy culprits that always seem to be attracted to NL politics.

  8. Anonymous
    Good questions. What kind of research investigations are needed will have to be decided by the Panel. The kind of expertise required would be similar to the skills of the panel on the Mount Polley incident where the chair was Dr. Norbert Morgenstern. Government will need to consult widely to find the right people to undertake this task but governments are always faced with these challenges. This was a challenge they faced with the breast cancer problem for which Justice Cameron was selected as chair. In light of the need to review highly technical reports and to examine experts I think we need a technical panel which is totally independent of Nalcor. The panel should examine all documents and review the research. In the case of the Mount Polley panel they also conducted their own research program. This appears to be necessary as well at the North Spur.
    David Vardy

    1. For those unfamiliar, Mt. Polley was the catastrophic BC earth dam failure caused by gross negligence by a "Self regulated, Professional Reliance" mine operator. Look it up on Google. Nobody went to jail. Luckily there was no Mud Lake downstream. At the time our MLA claimed that the tailings did not taste too bad.

  9. Does anyone know when the reservoir is to be filled? Is there an online resource that shows the level of the water upstream of the dam? The minister responsible has to act immediately to ensure the safety of those living downstream. Nalcor cannot be trusted now to give us this assurance. It must come from our government upon consultation with experts outside of the project. This analysis has come to conclusions which show a threat to human life. The government cannot ignore this now that it is public domain. Can we get faculty members from MUN's Engineering school to comment to comment? It is time to put politics aside and investigate. With full transparency.

    John D Pippy, B.Eng.

    1. John, the level was 21.5 meter elevation until recent modest reduction, about 18 in or 2 ft down now, per recent info on one of the articles on the
      The feds has a gauge that had data in real time, but not much value now with the spillway there. Nalcor have a new gauge there, but not online data , so no one know the level except what they say.........seems this should be real time info as the feds have provided for decades.
      Winston Adams

  10. Engineering science and engineering practice are not the same thing. Advances in science may temporarily appear to be counter to good practice. Whilst the implications should be evaluated carefully, science may temporarily mislead the unwary but that should not intimidate experienced engineers or their project owner.

    1. Seems what you overlook is that no large dam like this anywhere in the world is composed of considerable quick clay. What is good practice for foundations of known properties can be reliable and safe when properly designed.......but this foundation is abnormal, it appears, and to what extend requires more evaluation, as traditional methods do not apply to analysis for quick clay.
      This is not a matter of intimidation of experienced engineers and the project owner, but one of reasonable safety, especially for a company that says safety is number one.
      This boondoggle is a result of false assumptions, as stated by Stan Marshall. The analysis done here by Nalcor and the stabilization appears very possible to be another false assumption, as I see it.
      Winston Adams

    2. WA:

      My background is an advanced degree in geotechniques and 20yrs civil experience in NL----as I said earlier to Vardy, I am barely qualified to assess the resumes of those need to do this review and to identify the issues with this thing. I understand the issues and could possible lead a field program but am not nearly qualified to determine final remediation required.

      To me, this needs to be assessed as no less a technical feat of landing the first man on the moon... From what I have read and experienced on this project---it seems as if everyone is awestruck by the 'sexy' factor of standing towers/pulling wire and moving stators with the 'moving dirt and pouring concrete' seen as rudimentary....

      I see a fail of epic proportions coming at the hands of a group of engineers that ignored engineering 1st principles....


    3. If you really think that they have put a man on the moon, do you believe also that they/he could have been the first to do it?

    4. PENG2. I appreciate your comments on the North Spur, and I agree, this is a very difficult technical issue, but so critical to have the best available expertise, as to safety and the possible risk to losing this expensive asset. The videos of what happens fro slides due to quick clay is dramatic, and that steel drill pipe sank some 20 feet under its own weight at the North Spur is an example of building on mud.......but how much one knows for sure.
      I too marvel at the PR of erecting towers by helicopter and ignoring the tower foundation quality and access, as you mention. (In 1976, I used a helicopter to lift two air conditioners on the roof of Nfld Hydro Philip Building, so hardly a novel approach. I did it at daylight to avoid traffic and media, and a vacant parking lot)
      Your words of expecting a fail of epic proportions should wake up those in authority. We need more engineers to join your effort on this blog for transparency on critical issues. There is a wall to silence engineers who know the facts......
      I applaud your decision to express your views on UG and urge others at Nalcor and the power companies to do likewise.
      Winston Adams

  11. Part of the answer of Nunatsiavut to the Land Protectors released yesterday.

    Questions were raised by the Nunatsiavut Government following statements this spring from Nalcor’s Chief Executive Officer, Stan Marshall, that water levels would not be lowered in the reservoir until at least the middle of July. In response, Nunatsiavut President Johannes Lampe reached out to Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball and expressed concerns that the commitment to lower levels in the spring was not being honored. On June 21, the Premier announced that Nalcor had been directed to immediately lower levels in a controlled and safe manner.
    Water was initially released from the reservoir following the Premier’s directive. The release was suspended as Nalcor was concerned about erosion of soil along the river bank within the reservoir. The Nunatsiavut Government has been assured that water levels continue to be lowered in a safe and controlled manner. Nalcor and the Province have also been asked to confirm when water levels are expected to reach natural levels.

    That passage should ring some bells, n'est-ce pas? - On June 21, the Premier announced that Nalcor had been directed to immediately lower levels in a controlled and safe manner.
    Water was initially released from the reservoir following the Premier’s directive. The release was suspended as Nalcor was concerned about erosion of soil along the river bank within the reservoir.

  12. Seems to me , from the feds water gauges, there were big dumps of water through the spillway just prior to the Mud Lake flood, but now it must be very very gradual............
    Winston Adams

  13. The telegram editorial today says we must take steps to combat climate change.....a BURNING ISSUE. Likely written by Russell.
    But short on suggestions, in fact , no suggestions.
    Here are some
    1. taper back and reduce and stop entirely oil extraction.
    2. Initiate robust energy conservation and efficiency: our own Efficiency NL, separate form the power companies
    3. Bring on the carbon tax, and feed it back to customers for efficiency improvements.
    4. Put a tax on air travel, a mojor contributor to GHG
    5. Acknowledge that Fortis dumps 15 million tons of GHG per year.........those scallywags, who promote themselves as clean power.
    6. Initiate incentives for electric cars, and tax credits
    7. Mandate the power companies to cut peak load., and penalties for failure.
    8. promote passive housing for new starts, and minimum efficiency standards that exceed the codes.......enforced by permits unless tough standards are to be met.
    If the Telegram would comment on these it might help combat climate change. Waiting for the Chinese or Trump to change color, is not enough..........we inhabit one earth.......our oil does the same damage as the Saudi oil.
    Winston Adams

    1. Winston I'm not too sure NFP/Fortis are on the ratepayers side either. After talking to one NFP employee they said net metering should be at the same rate as the cost to generate Bay d'Espior power 1c kWh, 8% of the current retail price. $18,000-$50,000 to install solar and wind on ones property and even if they had an excess amount of power = the average 62GJ of energy per home usage that's a measly $177.22 from net-metering, not even a single 1% RoI. This employee thought Dunderdale was doing a good job at the time and was a blatant MF homer. NFP seems stuck in the past and don't want to innovate, lower peak demand or attempt anything new.
      3 MILLION bbls of oil used annually at HRT and a power employee doesn't want to see that reduced via net-metering or other methods? NFP scared of competition with the 5MW limit placed on net-metering? 2% peak demand is the minimal amount in other places that allow net-metering or 36MW on the Island.
      NFP has been silent on the third line from Bay d'Espior application that was taken back by Nalcor, one engineer pointed out 2 lines at max capacity will see greater loss V three lines, how many extra bbls of oil have been used since the application was taken back?

      At first I thought NFP were separate from Crown corps Nalcor and Hydro for Boondoggle Falls but their silence on the insane demand and cost forecasts makes them complicate as well.

      If NFP isn't up to the task of energy efficiency or a reduction in peak demand time for their monopoly as a utility to end.

    2. AC, Fortis and Nfld Power is almost as much to blame as Nalcor and Nfld Hydro, they are birds of a feather, and are second worst in Canada for customer efficiency measures and efforts to reduce peak demand. Simple : it reduces their revenue and therefore profits, so energy waste is good for shareholders and bad for they duck their heads and hope Nalcor gets all the blame for this boondoggle, and they may even profit more.
      The ratepayers in Nova Scotia rebelled against that type of behaviour a decade ago,forcing the government to change things, and so they now lead the country in efficiency measures and other things to bring down peak demand and also helps customers and keeps rates stable.
      Notice this:
      Marshall, ex Fortis boss and major Forts share holder now heads Nalcor
      John Green, lawyer for Fortis transferred to Nalcor , I believe
      Clyde Wells, one time head of Nfld Power, and who wanted Fortis to take over Nfld Hydro, now heads the Independent advisory appointments board.
      Bern Coffee, who was head prosecutor when Clyde Wells was in government, was appointed to Nalcor Oversight Commmittee, though in conflict , and was silent on MF once on the Oversight
      All this under Ball.
      Ball recently pals with Fortis on possible Gull Island development, amid the MF fiasco
      Feds who came a few months ago on carbon tax issue: no one from government, but Barry Perry of Fortis in the lead at that meeting, saying go reported by Ashley at the Telegram
      Fortis saying they want more opportunities in Nfld , they have a unused line of credit of 3.5 billion, and say there should be only one power company in Nfld, at their recent AGM.
      They play it smart for shareholders but are not the friend of ratepayers........and had the opportunity to more forcefully discredit MF before sanction, but for them better to say little, watch the boondoggle unfold, and benefits may fall into their lap.............until the ratepayers wisens up to their greed........and need I add Fortis pumps out 15 MILLION TONS of GHG per year on their overall operations! A dirty dirty scallywag! But the light will shine on them soon, when rates hit shock increases. They send out the bills.
      Winston Adams

  14. It seems that the only (official) source of honest information from inside Nalcor and Government... is, or has been, Mr. Stan Marshall.

    It's time now to call on Stan for some more honesty before citizens drown and/or lose whatever may be left of their lives, homes and families.

    First Stan wanted to wait til mid-July to lower the water, despite an agreement to do it in the Spring. Why was that Stan?

    Next, due to public pressure, they began to lower the water, at what somebody deemed to be a reasoned rate of release to achieve "a controlled and safe manner".

    But then, they had to drastically slow the release rate because "Nalcor was concerned about erosion of soil along the river bank within the reservoir." Which simply means that it wasn't a controlled and safe manner, as they had estimated or assumed.

    So Stan, was there was an error in that engineering assesment, or was the erosion factor simply underestimated, through inadequate engineering efforts... or worse yet was it ignored or assumed ? Please speak up Sir because the assurance "that water levels continue to be lowered in a safe and controlled manner." has proven to be fallacy.

    "Nalcor and the Province have also been asked to confirm when water levels are expected to reach natural levels." That spin means absolutely nothing without an answer. So what is the scheduled date for this Stan?

    We're already knee deep into summer, so the "agreement" that the Premiers rammed down the throats of Aborinal "leaders" has been violated. It too was/is fallacy... (or it was an outright fraud to begin with).

    Phrases from our Premier during his P.R. fly in to view the Mud Lake fiasco contain no substance and amount to pure spin also.

    Ball said when it comes to the health and safety of residents, "we're not going to put that at risk." But they already have, (the flooding of the community of Mud Lake, the dangerous error in rate of release, the imminent methyl mercury poisonings, the lack of real oversight, the lies and coverups that effect safety....). Arguably 3 or 4 deaths are related to this project already, (one RCMP officer's suicide, one industrial accident last winter and two more in recent weeks). How many more will it take Stan?

    Stan, nobody expects you to control nature, or natural disasters, but you DO control this unnatural disaster. It's about to blow up in your face at the peril of many (more) lives. We've learned that psychopaths don't seem to care much about legacy, but do you Stan? Aren't three or four lives lost enough?

    Ball said. "We need to put in preventative measures to prevent this from happening again," (referring to the Mud Lake fiasco). There's only one set of "preventative measures" that will work. It comes in three acts...
    1. an independent engineering assessment of the North Spur before the construction progresses ANY further.
    2. a Forensic Audit
    3. a public inquiry into how the entire project is, and has been, "managed".

    Without these three elements... we are left with the lies, errors and false assumptions that will (certainly) cause more deaths.

    I have no engineering degrees, nor any experience in constructing dams, but I know what to do.

    Before it's too late .... do you Mr Marshall?

    Peter Austin, Citizen

  15. MF has a peak capacity of 824 MM, but on average only about 560. To go to max capacity required a draw down of the water level, a max of 18 in or so. When we get cold snaps in St John`s, about 3 times each winter, this requires an additional 200MW or so, it comes on fairly quickly and lasts about 3 days.
    This required a substantial draw down of the water level in winter, if it is not well coordinated with the flow of the Upper Churchill. If not, then soil erosion on the banks, though under ice, could be substantial. Also increased production and water flow through MF could, it seems, surface flood the downstream frozen river, causing problems. And still there is no agreement with HQ on the water flow of the Upper Churchill.
    Given the flooding at Mud Lake, the flows at MF seem critical to avoid future flooding downstream.
    The concern for stable and slow changes in water elevation upstream now seem at odds with the rapid increase in elevation downstream of MF (per the feds water gauges) leading up to the flood of Mud Lake.
    Surely they need to explain to the residents the risks and concerns and their mode of operation this spring, and for the future.
    Saying `nalcor is not at fault` convinces no one, they have lost all credability, and now keep secret the current data on the water elevation , instead of having this available in real time as to the Feds on their water gauges. Why is that.......
    Winston Adams

    1. Winston, from your own experience, would the permanent Operator of the reservoir already be in place? or what we are seeing is the "contractor" playing with the draw down during construction phase? What level of construction Builder's Risk Insurance would you say is in place say to cover normal construction risks, and Public Liability, (Catastrophic dam failure). Usually when the Owner/Operator plays with the toy, the insurance coverage i.e. withdrawn. My point is that could it be possible that NALCOR are in this way negating their own risk coverage. This problem arises where the Owner is it's own project manager. As Costello would ask; "Who's on First"?

    2. "i.e" should read is. Silly word check.


    3. As I interpret from Des`s previous piece, it seems Nalcor`s subsidary was in charge of the water management and control, yet wanted to hold the contractor responsible, not for the flooding, but the small delay caused by the hold up of a few land protectors.
      It seems the contractor is now between a rock and a hard place, where this has gone public: it points a lot of blame not on the contractor but Nalcor`s Muskrat Falls subsidary, owners of the works there.
      Yet is obvious that the contractor, who were in the know of the actual operation, believed the owner both released water inappropriately and failed to control the water appropriately.
      To suggest this an act of god, beyond anyone`s control, the contractor says not so............not sure if they had their time back they would want to say that........but it came down to who pays for the few hours delay, caused by land protectors.
      I suspect that Nalcor`s subsidary was in fact in control of the gates, and other options to control ice, and water flow, or the contractor would not have stated it the way they did.
      And to blame God for the flooding of Mud Lake........well convenient to deflect blame .........I mean, when you have a boondoggle, there is lots of blame going on........but to blame God,( well Mother Nature they would argue), would solve a lot of problems, and they are running out of who or what to blame for all the false assumptions of this project.
      Insurance........I have never engaged much in insurance coverage issues, but I suspect the contractor is very knowledgeable about what happened there........and if it was the contractor`s responsibility, the flood may not have happened, being more prudent in operation and control of the flow. As Des says, they had good reason to keep on eye on this, least they be blamed for something not their fault.
      Me .......I think Nalcor is as guilty as sin in this. Not absolutely, but 99 percent feel this way. Now they need consultants and evidence to prove otherwise. They have been very successsful with this approach so get the answer you pay for. Call in the `experts`. Time will tell. And we ratepayers get dinged for all the costs anyway.
      Winston Adams

  16. It remains to be seen whether there is enough money available to harness this river at this location. It will require only a drop in the bucket to carry out another review. To successfully dam the water at this location however may require enormous chunks of money and time.

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