Thursday, 14 June 2018

NORTH SPUR: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

Guest Post by David Vardy
Sometimes revelations occur and information comes to light which sheds real insight into the mysteries of Muskrat Falls. Uncle Gnarley has just reported on such revelations. Through an ATIPPA request our avuncular friend secured correspondence between the Premier and SNC Lavalin which offers insights into a number of interrelated matters, not the least of which is the relationship between government and Nalcor. Also intertwined in these exchanges are concerns about water management, liquefaction of sensitive clays and methylmercury contamination.  

Uncle Gnarley reported on these mysteries in his post at "Extremely Frustrated" Premier Goes To SNC-Lavalin For Advice.  The Premier wrote to SNC Lavalin to seek advice on the impact of raising and lowering water levels upon erosion of the river banks on the Churchill River. The response from SNC Lavalin urged caution with respect to such variations in water levels, similar to the advice rendered to the advice rendered to the Joint Panel by Dr. Gregory Brooks while dealing with the North Spur.

Why would the Premier decide he needed to deal directly with SNC Lavalin on risks associated with the raising and lowering of water levels at Muskrat Falls.  Does this betray a lack of confidence in Nalcor’s Board and CEO? Why was the Oversight Committee unable to secure answers to the questions raised by the Premier, without recourse to SNC Lavalin? Why did the Oversight Committee not seek answers to these questions without the intervention of the Premier?

Despite his disclaimer about the safety of the North Spur one cannot help but wonder if the North Spur is not the central issue, along with the risk that landslides may trigger a series of major earth movements as glacio-marine clay liquefies from the disturbance.

Was this letter from the Premier to SNC Lavalin prompted by the Independent Expert Advisory Committee (IEAC) which was established to consider mitigation to food contamination from methylmercury? If soil and vegetation must be removed to mitigate the risk then this will call for lowering and raising the water level. It is clear that Nalcor considers further removal of vegetation and soil to be problematic. In fact many consider the appointment of the IEAC to be window dressing.

On April 10, 2018 the IEAC issued its final report and recommendations.  One of the recommendations was as follows:

“In addition, while the IEAC was not able to achieve consensus with respect to mitigation, based on votes by three of the four voting members, the IEAC recommends that Nalcor Energy undertake targeted removal of soil and capping of wetlands in the future reservoir area before impoundment. This recommendation includes:
• the removal to a depth of at least 50cm of topsoil from an approximate 10.3km² land area of the reservoir where vegetation has already been removed, avoiding steep slopes and waterways, and • covering the wetlands with a 50cm cap of low organic soil and aggregate”

Was such soil removal really an option at this late stage of the project or was everybody going through the motions, notwithstanding the “unequivocal” assurance from Gilbert Bennett that water levels could be lowered to “natural conditions”? This goes back to the site occupation in October 2016 and the agreement reached on October 26, 2016 to create the IEAC in order to end both the site occupation and the hunger strike.

Then there is the issue of the water management agreement. The Quebec Superior Court told us in August 2016 that the system of debits and credits on which Nalcor relied was not available. If the river banks are sensitive to raising and lowering water levels then the small reservoir at Muskrat Falls may offer little opportunity to manage power production at the generation site. SNC Lavalin, in their reply to the Premier, advises that occasional flooding may not saturate the river bank but lowering the water table when the river banks are fully saturated may trigger landslides. How can one reach any conclusion other than that we cannot manage water flows at Muskrat Falls?

Underlying these concerns are the soil conditions which prompted Dr. Gregory Brooks of the Geological Survey of Canada to recommend that “Nalcor establish a procedure for drawing down the Muskrat Falls reservoir to minimize the chance of triggering a large-scale earth flow.” It appears that SNC Lavalin had offered the Premier a comforting assurance “that this has no ramifications respecting the North Spur.”

Remember that it was the Premier who released the “secret” SNC Lavalin Report a year ago. It was that same Premier who reached out to SNC Lavalin in October of 2017 for advice on riverbank stability. The disturbing SNC Lavalin risk assessment report of April 2013 refers to the need for further geo-scientific information to guide remedial measures and assess overall safety and stability. In April of 2013, four months after project sanction, SNC Lavalin rated the risk as “very high.” Whether Nalcor has successfully remediated these risks over the period from April 2013 to the present is as yet unknown.

In his interpretation of his terms of reference Commissioner Richard LeBlanc said, (in paragraph 41 of his decision) the SNC Lavalin report:

will merit particular attention by the Commission. As well, I must consider whether appropriate or proper consideration was given and actions taken regarding potential risk to the environment, human safety and property related to the stability of the North Spur and methylmercury contamination. How these reports or assessments were received by Nalcor and whether they were made available to the Board of Nalcor as well as the Government will also be a part of the investigation to be conducted.

In paragraph 54 he goes on to say:
I will also investigate what analyses, risk assessments, etc., were done as regards environmental concerns and whether these were appropriate and reasonable in the circumstances based upon accepted industry standards and the knowledge that the parties had at the various times when the analyses or risk assessments were completed. Included in this will be a review of the measures taken, if any, to address any legitimate environmental concerns.

We have to entertain the possibility that the natural dam at the North Spur is not safe and cannot be remediated. This would be the worst case and most unthinkable scenario, requiring that the province write off its full investment at the generation site. In this context it is important that the research be updated as soon as possible. It will take the work of an independent expert panel, appointed by government and not by Nalcor, to determine whether these risks have been reduced or indeed whether they can be mitigated or eliminated.

Isn’t the North Spur really the elephant in the room?

David Vardy

47 comments:

  1. "Isn’t the North Spur really the elephant in the room?"
    A very big white elephant.

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  2. Agree mr. Vardy, with you, that the north spur is the elephant in the room. But I would take it one step further and say that the entire muskrat boondoggle is the real elephant in the room, or maybe a whole herd of elephants lurking in the entire boondoggle. The entire project may become a white elephant, but hopefully it will not become a stampede and cause death and destruction in its wake. Many parts of the elephant have been discussed on this blog and elsewhere, but it is really only nibbling at its various parts, wether it be the fincincial section, the ability to produce reliable power, the methyl mercury, and other safety sections. We have just been nibbling at its trunk, tail, feet, and tusk, and maybe other parts. But there is a day of reckoning coming soon, decisions will have to be made, governments will have to stand up, and will the people will be left in the lurch. A challenging time. Are we up to that challenge, and have enough info and understanding, to make the decisions necessary to tame the elephant and do the right thing. That is the question, and the real elephant in the room, says Joe blow.

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  3. Either of the issues of the unstable geology up and down the river or Nalcor's lack of contractual rights to energy storage at Upper Churchill are likely to greatly reduce Muskrat Madness's operability. Even if the rabid Muskrat can generate, the there is every reason to worry about capacity of those people in NL with gainful employment to bear the costs that Muskrat will impose. The only way forward that does not result in further depopulation of NL is a massive federal bailout. Harper's greatest mistake as a Prime Minister was guaranteeing Muskrat debt. Trudeau exacerbated that error. Federal taxpayers will have to foot the bill. It is difficult to imagine a federal bailout on the scale required that does not impose impairments on NL's sovereignty.

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    1. Mr. Adams, agree mainly with your comment, but when you say, "...impose impairments on NL' s SOVEREIGNTY." Is that the Canadian way?? Have we advanced beyond the colonial and emperalistic systems of the previous centuries. I can see it imposing on the standard of living, govt bond ratings, and other fincincial measures. So what do you mean by sovereign impairments. Could you please explain, expand, or enlighten. Thanks. Average Joe. AJ.

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    2. Waldo he means that the people of NL will be paying for this fiasco well into the future. The Feds bailing out Muskrat will only happen when NL's bankruptcy is a bond rating agency's pen stroke away; perhaps a couple years after commissioning. To assuage the other 98.5% of Canadians who will be paying to save our bacon, there will be very little treasure that the NL government or its agencies will be able to keep. Say good bye to Upper Churchill, offshore oil royalties, mining royalties, in fact any kind of royalty. Say hello to Big Brother Ottawa going over your books, monitoring every cent that you might want to spend. In other words, NL will be able to control its affairs less than the City of St. John's. Be prepared to become beholden.

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    3. Thanks you Waldo boy, I mean ex military, your cover was blown months ago, but you persist in moonlighting, and masquerading whenever you think one of your brain cells happens to engage your pen. You think you are sowing discord in this province, but rather you are just showing your bias and ignorance. So give it up for ch....t sake, and write only under one name like most others. Have you every heard of the Canadian Constitution, or all provinces are having an LG from which its sovereignty flows. I will be rather measured in any future comments I make to you, and hope most others on this blog will do the same. Cheers, and have a good day. Joe blow, average Joe, A J.

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    4. Adams has things correct. It's all about a Federal Gov. (buy out the pipeline), type of deal. Bailout negotiations underway, (while the Supreme court ruling is held back). So who do you want on the negotiating team representing the ratepayers and NL public? Which Ministers, along with this fellow Martin? Stan delegating or representing the interests of Fortis? Pull back the curtain and see the "elephant" at play. Time for an update, Heracles? Etienne? Ex-Mil? Peng?

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    5. Oh Waldo, still on your masquerade hunt. Anyway more to your point, which I think was that a Loan Guarantee has something to do with the constitution and sovereignty? When you take in less than you spend, you go bankrupt. Be you a provincial government or the Average Joe Blowhard. You can't have nice things because you can't afford them. You yourself will have to go to Halifax to see all the medical specialists that left the province. You will have to sit in their clinics that will be heated and lit by all that dependable central NF electricity that the nasty little man and his flock of fools gave away to NS.

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    6. The Federal Government bears fifty per cent of the responsibility for Muskrat Falls. No Bank in the world would have financed it without the loan guarantee and it was granted solely to help Canada obtain its greenhouse gas commitments without any reasonable due diligence.

      Under the current plan the average NL electrical ratepayer must pay an incremental $3,000 per year after tax which is in effect a carbon tax.

      MF is not 100% the fault of the people of this province. Our own Provincial Government went rogue and ignored its own regulatory body that represented the people but it took two governments to make it happen. Spreading the debt 50:50 with the Feds would add less than one tenth of a cent per kilowatt-hour to the average national bill to cover the carbon credits and 6 cents per kwh to the NL bill.

      That is the fairest option and it is not a bail out but living up to the responsibility for causing this fiasco.

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    7. How did you arrive at 50% Federal Government, though it would be a nice settlement if you can get it. Presumably they would also own 50% of the system (i.e., 50% Nalcor). Also if Nalcor passes on 50% of costs to NL consumers, why wouldn't the Federal Government likewise pass on their 50% to NL consumers/taxpayers? There will a huge debt linked to MF and ultimately it will be all ours to pay off.

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    8. It is my opinion. You are personally on the hook for $3K after tax per year unless you move or go south for the winter to reduce your energy bill. This was inflicted on you by the combined actions of two levels of government both of which who were negligent in their due diligence. You must accept the majority rule and pay accordingly towards the boondoggle which amounts to an incremental 6 cents per kwh or about 55% increase for the province’s share. The same applies to all citizens of Canada who must accept responsibility for the actions (or inactions) of the Federal Government who participated to meet Canada’s international GHG reductions. Each Canadian’s share (including yours and mine) of that half of the cost is approximately one tenth of a cent per kwh added to the electrical bill.

      In terms of division of assets, this only relates to the project assets which are the MF dam and power plant and transmission lines excluding the link to NS and 60% of the link to the island which are owned by Emera. The main thing that is important in relation to those assets is the cash flow which is in the range of negative $600 M per year after the savings in oil from Holyrood and earnings from power sales. All Canadians own half of that cash flow (negative $300M).

      We need to band together. The boondoggle is not entirely the fault of residents of NL. It would never have gone beyond $1 B without the guarantee and that had nothing to do with the project or empathy for the province and everything to do with GHG credits.

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    9. The only way for ratepayers and taxpayers to get out of MRF debt... is to get the hell out of NL.

      Forget the bloody mini-split heat pumps and solar and wind-powered generators and used-lard-fueled cars and similar excessively expensive contraptions and exotic systems to try and adapt to the coming tsunami of cost of living expenses when the horrendous bills for the MRF fiasco start arriving in your mailboxes... your hard-earned money will be better-spent by using it to offset the cost of permanently relocating to the other provinces, where the citizens actually receive competent governance and superior services at much lower rates of taxation.

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  4. Let's introduce some rational to the discussion.

    1 - Rapid drawdown of a reservoir where the banks are formed with soil, will increase the risks of landslides occurring. This has been known for decades, and is one of the risks which has to be assessed in any reservoir rim stability study.

    2 - The removal and replacement of 0.5m depth off, plus 0.5 m depth, over an area of 10.3 square kilometers means that 10.3 million cubic meters of soil will be moved. At $25 per cubic meter, the cost will be about $260 million. Just too expensive.

    3 - However, the methyl mercury issue may have been overblown. All research into methyl mercury uptake into water has been undertaken with stagnant water. Even the most recent tests undertaken with Muskrat soil were carried out in glass jars containing some soil and then filled with water. The uptake of methyl mercury was then measured weekly for several months.

    The water in the vast Smallwood reservoir at Churchill falls, is almost stagnant, with a transit time of about 9 months. (Live storage = 31.8 trillion cubic meters, divided by the long term mean plant flow of 1,387.52 cubic meters per second) This is the time required to replace all the live storage water in the reservoir at the average turbine flow rate. Adding the unknown dead storage will increase this time. This time is more than sufficient for the water to receive a maximum dose of methyl mercury.

    On the other hand, the transit time for the Muskrat headpond is about five days. (Headpond volume including dead storage = 820 million cubic meters, divided by long term average flow of 1,841 cubic meters = 5 days) This is insufficient time for any meaningful amount of methyl mercury to dissolve into the water. This can be verified by more tests, with the methyl mercury uptake measured every day for about 7 days.

    Jim Gordon

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    1. Mr Gordon, if I understand correctly what you are stating, is that the amount of methyl mercury at muskrat falls is rather minor compared to the amount of methyl mercury produced in the Smallwood reservoir, at UC, on the same river, and all ends up in the same place, where fish are being taken downstream of both. And the cost of removing the soil and growth is too expensive, and not worth the effort compared to what is coming down from the UC. I appreciate your comment, and if I am reading you incorrectly, just tell me. Thanks, average Joe, AJ.

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    2. Jim, you must mean 31.8 billion cubic metres... if it was 31.8 TRILLION cubic metres at 1388 cubic metres per second you'd be looking at a transit time of 726 years.

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  5. What's this bloody propaganda coming from that incompetent Al Hawkins now? An increase in "immigrant applications"?? WTF is that supposed to be Al? The federal government is responsible for immigration, so just who the hell are you trying to kid with that irrelevant statistic?

    http://vocm.com/news/come-from-aways-staying-put-immigration-to-nl-rising/


    Notwithstanding Hawkins ridiculous attempts at trying to BS NLers with his blow-hard feel-good propaganda, here's the dire reality of the situation...

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/population-numbers-1.4705920




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    1. VOCM's incompetent, half-assed reporting on the topic didn't help either... enabling Hawkins' propaganda by misleading readers with the impression NL was in the midst of some kind of immigration boom.

      What a bunch of imbeciles... they're lost.

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  6. AJ - correct. I don't know the numbers, but the methyl mercury added at Muskrat will be insignificant compared to what is already in the water. Go to -

    – http://www.hydroquebec.com/sustainable-development/documentation-center/mercury-reservoirs.html

    for graphs showing tests undertaken by Hydro Quebec on their reservoirs. The time required for methylmercury uptake is measured in years.

    Jim Gordon

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    1. Appreciate your comments Jim, that the MF headpond adds just a little to the methylmercury issue. While any additional is unwelcome, it seems money is better spent to assist residents affected.
      Jim, can you comment on the flood last year at Mud Lake. I have stated that Nalcors statement that water in equals water out as they held the elevation at 21 m meant they were doing nothing to increase the flow through the gates. But with the thaw and flow increasing it meant that they must further open the gates at the spillway to permit more water to flow through. Do you agree.
      Winston Adams

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  7. Hey Joe, I see that Ball thinks it important to invite Trumpie to New York Opera to convince them that Newfies are friendly and not a security threat. I suppose this could be beneficial least Ball and his pals maybe gets taxed on their Florida properly down the road, with a potential trade war with Canada.
    Meanwhile I get images of the Hitler SS separating men, women and children, as they disembarked off the cattle trains. The weak to head for the gas chambers, the fit adults to be slaves worked to death in the labor camps, and the children separated from parents. Trumpie is now separating children form mothers at the Mexico border. Sessions uses the Bible to justify it , saying governmental laws must be followed. The Bible was once used to justify slavery, and to deny blacks and all women the vote, and before that to disposes Native Americans. So Trumpie making a lot of progress to dictatorship,and even salutes a North Korean general, as the croc Kim smiles, all teeth showing, pleased with that propaganda photo. I mean, does our Queen even salute anyone, No, but Trumpie salutes the murderous brutes, and back home takes a children from mothers breasts, as God would require, because the Bible tells him so!. The American constitution, a separation of church and state, except when it comes in handy to ignore that.
    And our Premier Ball ignores the looming crisis from the Boondoggle, wanting to glow with a photo op with The Donald. The Americans dubbed us Newfies,and soon we were called Goofie Newfies. Can it get any more Goofie that sucking up to a dictator in the making. Hitler was praised internationally in the mid 1930s, and Mussolini before him, because he made the trains run on time. Goofie Newfie Ball wants a selfie with Trumpie. Meanwhile, a draw down on the MFs reservoir to boost generation capacity,assured by Goofie Gil as no problem, seems to be a problem indeed. Goofie GIl, the cable guy, needs to be hauled before the Leblanc Inquiry and held accountable. Meanwhile the UG Shadow Inquiry, with no budget, seems more productive so far than Leblanc,backed with 33 million, some say to protect the guilty . So says PF

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    1. Omg PF, I can't keep up with you. You have a roaving mind, and can talk about many things all at once, I am not as talented as you are, I can only focus, with my contented mind on one thing at a time. Seems the showers have stopped so thinking of taking my daily walk/run. So I have to concentrate on that now. Lol. But in a mean time, guess the Trumpie topic, that you mentioned is as good as any. Yes, seems Trumpie bddies are Putin, and his new found friend little rocket man, so don't think Ball would fit in there at all. How quickly things change in Trumpie world, from his assessment of a few months ago, to the best, wisest, smartes, best bro on earth, that kimmy. Lol. And mores surprising how his followers hold onto his every word. No doubt the same as the people of NK do on Kim's. Trumpie yearns for the day when he can be like Kim and be a total ditactor in his own country. The media is the enemy of the people and the country, yes an even greater threat that Kim or Putin. Imagine if Trumpie was around in the 1940's his best buddies would have been, Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin. Could you imagine the out come of the Great War, Churchill would have stood almost alone, with most of defeated Europe behind him, Canada, and Australia, or somewhat similar to the G-7 of today. What would have been our fate ???? Can the other 50 percent of Americans get their heads around that. They said Chamberlain (was that his name, the British pm before Churchill) tried to appease Hitler, so as to prevent the Uk from going to war against him. Is that trumpies game to appease Kim and Putin and a few other dictators around the world... Just asking says average Joe.

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    2. PF a quick comment. Just reading online that three of Hitler's main characteristics were charming, lying and bullying. Does that remind you of any modern day leaders????

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    3. Hoops.....average Joe..

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    4. Yes Joe, the biggest string of lies by Trumpie was yesterday. Usually he tells one whopper at a time, but as he gets more desperate, yesterday with Maniford arrested ,and the croc Cohen indicating he is about to flip, or face lifetime in jail, Trumpie out did himself.
      Now legend has it that George Washington could never tell a lie, and there were kids books written about that. But he was a general, and was the first as leader of the new republic. He did not want titles such as royalty used, so opted for the leader to be called just President. He did not want dictatorship, so a limit of time as President then someone else.
      Where once they had a President who had honesty and integrity as character, now they have one who is unable to tell the truth.
      I assume someone is about to write a book : How we escaped Dictatorship under Donald J Trump. If indeed they are successful, it will be by the rule of law and the freedom of the press.
      But as people are sucked in by short term gain financially, perhaps dictatorship will take root in the USA.
      There are lessons there for Nfld and MF boondoggle, and short term gain, and the silence of the majority, and no real freedom of the press. UG is an ember that burns, thank God.
      Maybe we need to quote from the Bible from time to time, that we might get to the Promised Land, instead of doom as Heracles predicts. Who will be our Moses? Ches? Dwight? Loraine?
      If only we had a Washington, someone with integrity ( his wife kept him from giving up his slaves, so he was not prefect). We need someone fairly honest and competent. Dammed if I can think of one in the current clique.
      PF


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  8. Winston - I do not know the full details of the Mud Lake flooding.

    However, if NALCOR kept the water level at Muskrat constant, with no variation, it would mean the water in equals water out, and the gates would have to be opened slightly to discharge more water. This does not exactly simulate natural conditions, since in nature there would be a small increase in river water level to accommodate the larger flood flow.

    But this small increase in water level would only store a small volume of water compared to the flood volume. Hence the effect at Mud Lake would be minimal.

    NALCOR has enough data to calculate this effect.

    Jim Gordon

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    1. Yes, mr. Gordon, that's how I see it too, in my minds eye. And with no ice down stream there would be little increase in water level at Mud Lake and hence no flooding. Now, if you have to take into account the varing ice conditions down stream, like ice thickness, type of ice, how much snow is in the ice, ice melt, if it is total coverage, or breaking up, and moving down stream, at a rate varing with the rate and volume of flow. Then taking into account the river narrows across from ML, there are varying water depths, sand bars, maybe shifting sand bars, the effect of the risking ocean tide, maybe around a foot, which can be easily factored into a model, but the other factors may not be so easily factored in accurately. So with all of these factors, and triggered by a greater flow than natural release from muskrat gates, you can get ice rafting, and an ice jam occurring rather quickly, the restriction of water flow, and boom, ...the water rises, just a couple of meters, and you have flooding at ML within hours. That's how I see it in a general way. But you may only get this combination of factors coming together, to form as one might say the perfect storm. The primary factor being a quick thaw at the right (wrong) time in the spring, followed by a quick realease of water, more than normal from the gates above, to keep a constant headwater at muskrat. If muskrat were to operate, and the down stream factors could not be accurately modelled, then a flood may occur at ML, say every few years, who knows. So the only solution then would be for the people of ML to relocate, especially taking into account the population there is rather small, compared to HV - GB. Just giving my opinion people of Mud Lake, I have no authority, just an ordinary citizen, but not living in ML. And others may have a completely different opinion or solution. What do I know about modelling the river flow, others are more capable of doing that, says average Joe.

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    2. Thank you Jim, so leading up to the ML flood,
      1. with the water level at MF essentially constant, with little variation, which was at about 21 m elevation, that water in = water out, and this water all passing through the spillway gates. So that part of Nalcor statement was true
      2. that you agree that to accommodate the larger flood flow during this spring thaw, that the spillway gates would have to be opened some to accommodate that larger flow. You define it as the gates needing to be "slightly" opened more. For now lets leave the word "slightly" not well defined, but certainly the gates were opened more. To open the gates, Nalcor were indeed doing something to cause the gates to open further.
      3. PENG2 on UG on June 13, in the context of the ML flood last year, says "Simply put, if in a thaw either the flow or head (or both ) must rise.
      The head being the water elevation, last year at 21m, and held steady with very little deviation, and intentionally held steady.
      One must interpret PENG2's comment, as he says in a thaw, either the flow or head (or both ) must rise. Since the head was not permitted to rise, then the flow through the spillway gates must rise, by PENG2 reasoning. While PENG2 does not state it, it is apparent from his statement that for the flow to rise, (that is for the flow to increase), as it did, and could only pass through the spillway gates, he admits, I suggest, that he agrees with you and I , and Average Joe, that the gates did open further, whether by the action of Nalcor or the contractor that may have been involved.
      4. That our consensus is that the gates did open further, that we agree that this is factual, is it not?
      Winston Adams

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    3. Winston - correct.

      JimGordon

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    4. Jim, as far as I recall, Nalcor never did admit that they opened the gates further, leading up to the flood at Mud Lake, which increased the water flow. Besides our consensus, (that is factual that they did open the gates further), there was commentary or video of workers there at the time, who angrily stated in public meetings, that the gates were opened further. And there was the case, detailed by UG, of the contractor, who sued Nalcor over this event, apparently blaming Nalcor, but who then stayed quiet.
      Meanwhile today`s Telegram has a piece saying non residents who had houses and equipment damaged at Mud Lake, has gotten the runaround now for a full year, and were just advised they will get no compensation. The Disaster Compensation plan is funded by the feds, and the rules allow for compensation only for primary residences, not secondary ones. So the province and Nalcor will provide no assistance to them and the feds program excludes secondary residences, and it took a year to tell residents that.
      The PR people at Nalcor said they did nothing to contribute to the flood, and engineering backed up that PR comment. I am not aware that the follow up investigations had any factual statement that the gates were opened further, so if they did, someone please correct me.
      If other engineers, or technical person, willing to give their name, can add to our consensus, on this blog, of this fact, it would help even Leblanc to accept this fact. I await PENG2`s confirmation that our interpretation of his comments is correct, and he agrees it is factual.
      Winston Adams

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    5. The June 11 UG piece has a quote from Gilbert Bennett saying with Churchill Falls operating at full capacity , the flow there is about 2000 cu meters of water per second.
      Now this spring during the thaw, CF operated in the range of 1400 to 1000 flow, and would drop to 1000 to help reduce flooding downstream, or help prevent the MF reservoir from exceeding this year elevation of about 23m.
      Now with CF as low as 1000 flow, and the flow into MF reservoir from the thaw, from that watershed, at maximum about 5200, it give a very large flow increase. Again with the elevation held fairly constant at 23m, with slight variation, it required a very large increase in flow through the spillway gates.
      Again, for the increased flow to happen, as it did, it required the gates to open further to permit this increased flow. While the amount of the gate opening is not defined, it must be sufficient to permit a massive flow increase through the spillway and to travel downstream.
      Jim and PENG2 if you concur with this as factual,please comment.
      Of course, my point is that even modest opening of the gates at this time causes large increase in flows past MFs.
      Winston Adams

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    6. A timely Telegram item: KGS Group wins contract for lower Churchill River flood risk mapping: " By taking steps to identify areas that could potentially be impacted by future floods and climate change our government is taking steps to enhance the safety and security of the residents of Mud Lake and Happy Valley-Goose Bay" says Minister Andrew Parsons. It will identify areas that may be impacted by climate change as well as associated flood alert levels and flood hazard areas.
      Anyone see anything odd here?
      Winston Adams

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    7. The study into the cause of the flood was awarded to Lindenschmidt for about 100,000.00, and said to be an"independent "study.
      The guy was said to be a climate expert, but most of the report seems to have been the result of a subcontract to KGB which is an engineering outfit with expertise on water flow control etc,
      The conclusion was that this flood was not caused by Nalcor, and that there were many unknowns needing more studies to define and mitigate risks. Obviously this result, which cleared Nalcor is what Nalcor and government wanted.
      PENG2, in an exchange with me on UG said the report gave them plausable deniability whether Nalcor was at fault, so it seemed he did not believe the conclusion as very sound.
      Now the same outfit , KGB, who cleared Nalcor in their report, gets a 931,000.00 contract as noted, likely 20 times their original payment for the "independent "report" as a sub contractor.
      Now when this flood happened, KGB was already engaged with Nalcor, so how could their involvement be independent?
      The report contains correspondence between KGB and and a Nalcor engineer just hours before the flood. KGB is worried that things were not looking so good with the rising water levels. The Nalcor engineer says don't worry , be happy, more or less, nothing unusual going on to warrant concern.
      That Nalcor engineer was no less than Gilbert Bennett.
      What was KGB's role at that time? And having them engaged in the study last year, how could that be an independent study largely done by a company already engaged by Nalcor and involved in the flow of the river at that time, immediately before the flood? Does this smell, or what?
      And now a plump 1 million contract for more work.
      Winston Adams

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    8. Peng2 seems in no rush to say it is factual that Nalcor opened the gates to let more water through. PF wonders if Maybe he is gone fishing and not following UG now, or maybe disagrees with Mr Gordon and Adams?

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  9. Winston – It can be shown from first principals that operation of the gates at Muskrat did not influence the magnitude of the flood at Mud Lake.

    Very large lakes or reservoirs can mitigate the effect of floods.

    The best natural example of this is the Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories. There the surface area of the lake is very large compared to the drainage area. This results in a natural mitigation of the spring flood, so that it is only about 30% larger than the long term average flow.

    Another closer example is Churchill Falls, where the reservoir is so large that there is no spring flood, with the reservoir being capable of storing all the spring flood flow. In fact, the Churchill Spillway at Lobstick Lake has never been opened, except once, when the Quebec ice storm collapsed all the 750kV transmission towers around Montreal, and the Churchill turbines had to shut down immediately.

    However, there is no reservoir at Muskrat, only a small headpond. The headpond is too small to store any flood waters, thus cannot reduce the flood flow.

    What we are discussing is the water level downstream of Muskrat, not upstream. When the spring flood arrives, the Muskrat gates have to be opened, otherwise the cofferdam will washed out when the headpond water flows over the top.

    Flow into the headpond must equal flow out, requiring a small increase in gate opening in order not to increase the headpond level.

    With flow in equal to flow out, the dam has no effect on the water level downstream of the dam.

    Jim Gordon

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    1. Jim, Agree that MF reservoir is very small compared to that for CFs. If memory serves, when at 39m, MF reservoir is 42 sq km , or about 16 sq miles, so a bit bigger more than half the size of Bell Island near by here in Conception Bay.
      In rough numbers, if at max flow in to the reservoir of 5000 cubic meters per second, the flow out was stopped altogether, then the reservoir rises about 3 ft in 2 hrs . If reduced 50 % , then it rises 3 ft in 4 hrs, and 9 ft in 12 hrs. (not sure if any serious error in these numbers).
      Prior to the MF dam I believe water would back up and rise the elevation 10 ft or more ( needs verification). As the river backs up the area gets bigger, so it would rise more rapid rate in the original configuration, and slower as the reservoir gets higher and more area. But still small. Unlike Nalcor who call this a reservoir, you say a head pond, which is likely a better term.
      Now the question of whether a rise in elevation like this and for only 9 hrs is of any value to mitigation of a flood or for time to alert and evacuate residents.
      It was suggested that the water was maintained at 21 m to protect infrastructure, and as you suggest, likey to protect the coffer dam.
      As to compare with MF original configuration to the spillway and holding at 21m, I would suggest the spillway and holding the elevation fixed permitted no back up, so more risk as to flooding.
      If one reduces the flow , not by 50 percent , but by 25 percent, the time frames for for the head pond to rise would be longer.
      If these numbers about right, I think it is false to say the structures there had NO impact on the flood, or risk to safety of people at Mud Lake? As to the amount of negative impact would require greater analysis. You say the gates cannot reduce the flood flow, I suggest it can for some, but not a long time frame. Don't mean to split hairs, but when thinks look desperate at night , 3 am, prior action on the gates can be beneficial, would it not?
      Perhaps I am wrong.
      Winston

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  10. Sometimes I'm just stun. Comments on UG just dried up, and for what reason. Then it clicked in : HEllOOOOOOO, Father's Day! Even AJ has taken a break, and poor Winston left dangling in the wind, whether Nalcor opened the gates or not. Even Peng2 not taking the bait, and staying silent.
    Then again, Leblanc being stalled, and nothing dramatic happening at MFs, the naysayers seem to be losing steam, unless gearing up for the Inquiry.
    Even Vision 2041 blog is at a snails pace, posting now one a week instead of every second day, and Ed Hollett ran out of steam. And Des Sullivan, just hope he doesn't pack up and leave the Rock, as 1100 Newfs (not Newfies) did over the past 3 months.
    UG has had some successes, mostly getting the Inquiry underway, and opening a few eyes. But generally a failure of mass appeal to stir the public.
    Where did they he wrong? Lack of communication, PF suggests. The kind of communication that the pros use. UG maybe needs the approach of the ABC.
    If you can't beat them , join them.
    ABC...., not , not Danny's "Anything But Conservative", shit no!
    ABC....Association of Business Communication. If their approach can't get mass appeal, nothing can. Never heard of ABC? What cave have you been in? So says PF.
    "Lack of Communication" . So said Paul Newman in Left Hand Luke movie, before they opened fired and killed him, American Justice style. Now if he had a blog and internet and other platforms, communication might have saved him, I wonder?

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I agree on few parts of your post... Activity is now pretty low on many platforms. Summer time is probably a part of that.

      Another is that very few new things surfaced for a little while and in all cases, whatever comes is nothing to get any closer to a solution. As for me, the next big thing will be when the Supreme Court judgement will be released or discarded because a mutual agreement has been reached.

      On my side, I did a little research on the Massachussets deal for clean energy, a bid won by HQ. The first bid selected and accepted by Massachussets was blocked by New Hamshire but another one, over Maine, is about to be concluded.

      What surprised me is what I found in the proposal from Emera / Nalcor, called the Atlantic Link. A significant part of their bid is not about promoting their own solution, but bashing against HQ. Yes, even there the anti-Qc and anti-HQ is present!!!

      That anti-Qc / anti-HQ is what started Muskrat Falls and nobody, including Uncle Gnarley, is ready to stop it.

      There is no hope for Newfoundland until that mentality is changed for a positive one and unfortunately, there is nothing that let me hope it will happen any time soon.

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    2. "A significant part of Emera's bid is not about promoting their own solution, but bashing against HQ"

      Indeed, Emera was questioning the reliability of the HQ power corridors to be used.

      Quite amazing when considering Emera's bid relied on reselling MF power, and on a pair of underwater cables to be built (NB to Mass.)

      I really love that typical Canadian solidarity (back stabbing Quebec). That's exactly what we need with this bully administration south of the border...

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    3. On a different matter, it seems HQ definitely don't intend to give a free ride to those cryptomining users.

      HQ wants to charge them 15 cents per KWh, plus allowing interruptions during some winter peak periods.

      http://www.lesaffaires.com/blogues/francois-remy/hydro-quebec-reclame-des-tarifs-dissuasifs-pour-la-crypto/603387

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  11. Gentlemen, as you know I don't have any credentials in river flooding, but I have observed a couple. And I have written several times in the past few months, expressing my opinion, and from what I have read on the Mud Lake flooding of 2017. I am not sure if you have seen my comments, but think Winston has because has commented on my comments. As I have said before, I follow mr. Gordon's recent comments, and think I understand them, and agree with them. But no comments have occurred on this blog that deals with ice jams and the resulting flooding, so it seems the comments deals with river flows and pond heads and not taking ice coverage, ice movement, with the water flows and resulting ice jams down stream. The report to govt. last year was clear that the ice jam where the river narrows, downstream of muskrat was the cause of the flooding at ML. Now, it's a fact, or to the best of my knowledge that the people of ML has said and confirmed flooding has not occurred at ML in more than 100 years. Guess Mother Nature has fine tuned the river flow so that no flooding occurs. So we can call it the 100 year flood. Is it not rather ironic or suspect, that the first year that muskrat dam is in operation, flooding occurs?? Was that just a coincidence? Maybe? My hypothesis is that a trigger may be required to interfere with MN at a specific circumstances, and ice patterns down stream to trigger an ice jam, where the river narrows and the water depths vary and become much shallower on the sand bars. Maybe the trigger required in 2017 was an opening of the gates and allow more water to flow so as to maintain a water head at the dam, which was different from the previous flow in other years as determined by the fine turning of MN or the natural flow. This is what I understood mr. Gordon and Winston to agree on in earlier comments. This added, un natural flow, caused by increasing the opening of the gates, to maintain the predetermined head pond level, was the trigger that caused the ice to move in such a way that the ice raftered in the shallower water and cause the ice jam. Of course that required a specific ice pattern of coverage and ice movement, along with maybe a quicker ice melt than normal, or specific to that year. No doubt that may be difficult to prove, due to lack of proper modelling and inadequate information over the previous long term years. And if memory serves me correct ice jams has caused flooding at Badger, in central Newfoundland, several times in the last 100 years, occurring at irregular intervals, sometimes 10 or 20 years in between floods. So guess MN has not been so kind to the people of Badger as to the people of Mud Lake in the past 100 years or so. So with this, maybe minimal , interference by the muskrat dam, with the normal water flow was the trigger that caused the ice jam, and the resulting ML flood in 2017. The water rose rather quickly over a few hours to maybe 2 meters, and lasted a relative short period of time, 24 to 48 hours. So is it possible that our learnered friends may comment on ice jams causing the flood, notwithstanding that inadequate knowledge, and information is available to prove conclusively that muskrat gates, varying openings, interfered with the natural flow downstream. If I am way off base, please let me know, and would appreciate your comments. Thanks, AJ . (My darling daughter was kind enough to take me to Coras for brunch, and I appreciate it very much on Father's Day)

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  12. Gentlemen - the gates at muskrat would be opened slowly, a few centimetres each time, to match the inflow. If opened more or less, the headpond level would change. Since Nalcor were maintaining a constant level, the gate motion would have no effect on the flood at Mud. since the water rose rapidly, flooding was due to an ice jam. Jim Gordon

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    1. So really nothing to worry about, the flood was caused by an ice jam, that may occur every 100 years or so, and has nothing to do with the muskrat gates, causing the ice jam. Case closed, says Average Joe.

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    2. Not so fast, Joe. I think you, Adams, Gordon Peng2 all agree that the ice jam caused the flood, as that much it is common sense, and a common cause of floods elsewhere, like you mention, every 20 years on average say.
      But here, you logic is right, it never happened in the past 100 years. And so was Mother Nature so cruel or so clever to make this happen at just the time after they change the way MN originally set it up? Or that the operation of a fixed and higher water elevation and constantly nudging the gates open to allow more flow had no detrimental impact? That is a leap of faith that is not logical or evidenced based. Logical that MN played a role , like in many years with modest flooding. But not logical that Nalcor's involvement played no role whatsoever, even if a small role. That small role may have been the tipping point.
      If Gordon says Nalcor had absolutely no role, I suggest he is wrong. And has Gordon actually reviewed the gate motion? Even if small, it was still allowing an increasing rate of flow. Did he read the full investigation report, grasping for straws, some of it.
      Absolutely the ice jamb caused the flood.
      Not absolutely that Nalcor played no role. So say PF. Would Gordon disagree, that Nalcor may have played some , even if a small factor? And I think you think Nalcor did Joe, so don't jump the gun. Gordon is highly respected, even with me, but I think he off a smidgen.

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  13. Anonymous - the dam had no effect on changing the natural flow pattern, since water in was equal to water out.
    Look for other causes for the ice jam.
    Jim Gordon

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    1. For those who are paying close attention, we have learned two very important things in the comment section: 1) muskrat methyl mercury has a rather minor effect downstream. 2) the muskrat dam gates did not cause the ice jam. That's what we have learned from Mr. Gordon's comments. Just wanted to make that summary clear. Thank you. Joe blow, average Joe, AJ.

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    2. Two major hurdles for muskrat may have been out to bed, as indicated above: 1) methyl mercury 2) flooding due to ice jam. That leaves just two othe hurdles: 1) sufficient water flow to produce maximum or near maximum power output, at muskrat . SCC ruling may shed some light on this one, or may clearify it completely one way or the other. 2) And as in the hymn, will your anchor hold. Will the north spur hold?? This one may be less certain. Only time or new data, research etc. can give that answer. Or maybe as we say, God only knows. Thanks again says average Joe.

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