Hydro Engineer, James L. Gordon has refused a one-on-one briefing proposed by
Nalcor’s Engineering Manager on the Muskrat Falls project. The invitation to Gordon came from
Muskrat Falls Manager of engineering, Greg Snyder.
at SNC Offices in Montreal.
insists the remediation plans for the North Spur require assessment by a competent Review Board.
In turning down his offer, Gordon told Snyder “there are many others that need assurance from an independent Review Board that the North Spur dam design is correct.”
on 113 hydro projects throughout the world and is the recipient of several
awards for “excellence in design”. He fears
that Nalcor’s remediation plans have not been designed by experts who have
extensive experience in marine clays.
hydro engineering icon has posted on this Blog and written the Telegram in an
effort to draw public attention to the stability of the North Spur and to the
value of having a “Blue Ribbon” panel review Nalcor’s design.
Spur is a natural feature that extends into the Churchill River, from the north.
The Spur constitutes roughly 50% of the Muskrat Falls dam. Two proposed Nalcor concrete
dams will complete the structure.
North Spur contains a
type of clay called “Quick Clay” which is in a class called “sensitive” clays.
Quick Clay has the ability to liquefy under certain conditions,
and to cause landslides. A landslide induced collapse of the dam would
constitute a catastrophe for the Muskrat Falls project and pose life safety
risks for residents living downstream of the project.
an email to Jim Gordon, the lead Nalcor engineer, Greg Snyder, said: “we value
your opinion on the project, and would like to have the opportunity to give you
an in depth presentation….In particular”, Snyder stated, “we can address the
concerns raised by (Dr. Stig) Bernander on the issues around landslides.”
Bernander, is a Swedish geoscientist and internationally recognized expert on
Quick Clay. His research led to new methodologies for assessing Quick Clay risk.. He conducted field work at the North Spur in 2014 and lectured at
the LSPU Hall and at the Engineering School, Memorial University. Nalcor V-P,
Gilbert Bennett attended the MUN Lecture but did not invite Bernander to review Nalcor’s
informed the Nalcor engineer by return email:
be conducted by Dr. Bernander and another retired professor of geotechnical
engineering, such as Dr. N. R. Morgenstern from the University of Alberta, who
recently chaired the failure panel studying the cause of the central British
Columbia Mine disaster, known as Mount Polley Dam. The Dam expert also proposed
that a third senior geotechnical engineer, selected by mutual agreement between
the other two Review Board members, should complete the Panel.
design of the North Spur dam is without precedent, and that the consequences of
failure are catastrophic. He reiterated, as he had previously, that only an independent
panel of experts – a Review Board – is capable of assuring Nalcor’s design for
the North Spur is acceptable.