recently started on Nalcor’s North Spur “stabilization” construction activities
at the Muskrat Falls Project. So far, this has involved the stripping of trees
on the upstream and downstream sides of the North Spur and the use of heavy
excavation equipment .
is known to be unstable and such activities can only heighten the risk of
there is presently a serious risk for a North Spur collapse.
The North Spur
effectively impounds a considerable amount of water stretching back 35 miles to
Gull Island; in addition a North Spur collapse would involve a very large
amount of liquefied Quick Clay both from the North Spur itself and from the
immediate up slope area back to the Trans Labrador Highway and from upstream areas
as the river cuts a new channel by-passing Muskrat Falls.
has the potential for catastrophic impacts on property and lives in Happy
Valley-Goose Bay and Mud Lake.
made public a risk assessment of this danger; all released Nalcor “dam break“
analyses have been restricted to the proposed concrete dams on the south side
of the Lower Churchill River.
I hand delivered the attached urgent letter to the office of the Provincial
Minister responsible for dam safety, the Honourable Dan Crummell, Minister of
Environment & Conservation; no reply has yet been received.
the Muskrat Falls power development of the Lower Churchill River in Labrador
and your responsibilities under the Water Resources Act SNL2002 c W-4.01 as
amended (“the Act”) in relation to Dam Safety.
Honourable Joan Shea on March 14, 2014, on this general matter and received a
reply from Minister Dalley dated May 14, 2014. This letter will not repeat my
arguments made there which still seem valid in spite of Minister Dalley’s reply.
Dalley’s reply that I wish to address
Report “ and an “Emergency Preparedness Plan” need not be prepared and filed
for approval until impoundment takes place or is imminent – presumably pushing
off such matters until around 2017.
Happy Valley Goose Bay and Mud Lake at great risk during North Spur
“stabilization” activities without the benefit of an Emergency Preparedness
dereliction of your statutory Ministerial duties.
the Trans Labrador Highway, it is
apparent that Nalcor’s “stabilization” activities on the North Spur have
started with the partial, and presumably on-going, stripping of trees from the
top and sides of the North Spur.
extensive use of heavy excavation and construction equipment.
to destabilize the North Spur during so-called “stabilization” construction activities.
North Spur has exposed the unstable soil of the North Spur to the erosional effects
of sudden, prolonged thunder showers at this time of the year.
the tremendous amount of water presently “impounded” upstream by the North Spur – which acts, as Nalcor has repeatedly said, as
a “natural dam”.
liquefaction of millions of cubic meters of Quick Clay both at the North Spur
and along the river as the Lower Churchill cuts out a new channel, by-passing Muskrat Falls and extending (based
on relative elevations and river bottom soil conditions) in a deepened river
valley all the way back, or a good part of the way back, to Gull Island.
on the lives and property of downstream residents.
that a “major slippage in the excavation works” at the Muskrat Falls project has already taken place. I strongly urge you
to investigate this matter to see if any such slippage took place and whether
or not the North Spur was involved.
Nalcor has thrown over the whole Muskrat Falls project only a Ministerial
investigation can determine whether or not such slippage has taken place.
Preparedness Plan for a North Spur collapse during Nalcor’s “stabilization”
activities remains whether or not any such “slippage” has already taken place.
reasonably foreseeable accident takes place before preparing an Emergency Preparedness
on-site 24/7 North Spur collapse monitoring system under your Ministerial
guidance is urgently needed tied into a proper effective Emergency Preparedness
its natural unaltered state, the North Spur is unstable and at risk of
collapse; its current construction activities can only serve to make the North
Spur even more unstable – at the very least while the “stabilization” measures
are being put in place.
Plan that is urgently needed to protect the residents of Happy Valley Goose Bay
and Mud Lake should a North Spur collapse take place during the present “stabilization”
worker safety but also involves all downstream residents. And no Emergency
Preparedness plan can be effective if not made public and adequately
under your “Safety of Works” oversight duties under Section 44 of the Act and
your right to issue Dam Safety directives under sub-section 44(3).
48 of the Act that all persons wishing to construct a dam must file an
application in the form set out in Schedule C
which must contain both a “Dam Safety Review Report “ and an “Emergency
critical documents focus on such issues
amount of warning time downstream inhabitants would have before the onrush
of water and liquefied mud from a North Spur failure hits the Happy Valley-
Goose Bay / Mud Lake area – a factor
that greatly determines the potential for downstream loss of life;
loss and loss of life.
onrush of the combined flood of liquefied North Spur “Quick Clay” together with,
and driven by, the release of the presently naturally impounded river water could
have an entirely different and potentially far more devastating character and
impact from that that of a concrete dam failure.
Environment and Conservation NL