Nalcor V-P Gil Bennett

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

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

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

The report would have identified what had gone wrong, defined an immediate fix of
a gap in construction or inspection practices, and determined whether anyone had signed
off on any part of the installation without first performing their
due diligence. In such a case, the report would have also confirmed their replacement.

Indeed, no manager – unless he is completely clueless – would ever give the OK to place concrete in forms without first knowing all the causes which led to the failure. 

scheduled work entailed a large concrete pour. It was not the last
even close. The necessity to proceed safely
keeping in mind the schedule
would have signaled the importance of quickly getting to the bottom of the incident.

management on the project, being what it is, did not order the concrete to be
kept wet for easier removal and inspection. Days of men and jackhammers removing
the material, weeks later, conjures an image too foolish to describe.

Independent Engineer offered a glimpse into Nalcor’s inspection and diligence
practices in his Report dated November 2, 2016 
based upon a site visit which
occurred July 11-15, 2016.  I noted in a Blog Post dated December 8, 2016 the following excerpt, the
IE’s Report having been released to the public only days before:


If the
Independent Engineer was able to report “design issues, faulty materials [including] dry rot…” roughly six weeks after the incident, Nalcor
must have known too
likely much earlier.

On December
9, 2016 I placed the following request to Nalcor via ATIPPA. Nalcor’s reply is
seen at the end of the excerpt:

Nalcor knew certainly by
July 2016
why the formwork had collapsed but it had no Report to offer, even in December 2016. The investigation, Nalcor said, is “not yet

On March 23,
nearing the oneyear mark of the incident I wrote, again, asking for
the Report. The following excerpt confirms the request:

month went by. 

On Monday, April 24th, 2017 Nalcor offered this reply to the ATIPPA request:

After more than a year of trying to complete (or is it hide?) a Report on a single incident albeit one having the potential for a fatal consequence Nalcor could not suppress its arrogance, using a rarely invoked clause to delay the Report some more. 

Was Nalcor upset that a citizen had not forgotten the incident, refusing to let it to be quietly filed?

As it stands, the report will show up when he sees fit sometime during the next 30 days.
The simple
truth is that  Nalcor can count itself
very lucky
based upon private reports of the incident that they do not have
to answer for at least one death, given that one or more of the workers was practically
buried under the wet concrete.

What would have been wrong with Gilbert Bennett – or Project Manager Paul Harrington – standing up in front of their workers and the public as concrete began to pour again to explain what had gone wrong and the lessons they had learned.

At minimum, they owed that to the workers who nearly lost their lives. 

But the lack of transparency continues – there is no leadership from Stan Marshall and none from the Ball government.

Think about it. What can Nalcor boast, if not even a good safety record?

If the public thinks anything has improved, they should look at Nalcor’s project report for February, 2017 which was issued April 17, 2017. There were three lost-time accidents in that month alone. For the project to date -12 lost time accidents (see exhibit below). Again, for Hebron there were zero!

That is a disastrous record for Nalcor and no one – not even a Trade Union Head has a word to say. If Muskrat was headed by real management there would be firings and full reasons given. 

How long will
the public stand for it?

Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.


Bill left public life shortly after the signing of the Atlantic Accord and became a member of the Court of Appeal until his retirement in 2003. During his time on the court he was involved in a number of successful appeals which overturned wrongful convictions, for which he was recognized by Innocence Canada. Bill had a special place in his heart for the underdog.

Churchill Falls Explainer (Coles Notes version)

If CFLCo is required to maximize its profit, then CFLCo should sell its electricity to the highest bidder(s) on the most advantageous terms available.


This is the most important set of negotiations we have engaged in since the Atlantic Accord and Hibernia. Despite being a small jurisdiction we proved to be smart and nimble enough to negotiate good deals on both. They have stood the test of time and have resulted in billions of dollars in royalties and created an industry which represents over a quarter of our economy. Will we prove to be smart and nimble enough to do the same with the Upper Churchill?


  1. The Nalcor arrogance is no surprise to those of us who have looked the beast in the eye. In the manner of classic colonial overlords they have absolute contempt for their workers and those who would want to protect workers from bumbling incompetence. After all this time Gil and Stan expect you to know your place! Worker safety, accountability, transparency, how dare you persist in your request? I guess you have not yet figured out that Nalcor stands above the law despite the fact that successive governments have been unable to bring them to heel.

    What do they have to do to convince you to bugger off, send Cst Smyth to visit you? It is not surprising that Canada has slipped out of the top 20 countries with respect to press freedom. Justin Brake's charges and a Vice journo who is threatened to reveal his source are part of the reason. When press freedom is not a material issue when a journalist is charged with following a story we are in Banana Republic territory. Making a mockery of FOI is small potatoes for the exalted Nalcor crew.

    Like their political "masters" you must learn your place Des!

  2. Surely Gil Bennett would be very high on the list of needing a public flogging. This is but one charge against him of which there is no defense……a disregard for a timely disclosure of the causes of an incident that nearly led to the death of several workers.
    Then too, there is the issue of Bennett`s dismissal of the opinions of the knowledgeable expert on quick clay, and of the on-going Jim Gordons, and Maurice Adams analysis on the technical issues of the North Spur risks, suggesting the need of a Review Panel to assess this……a major safety issue and the 6 billion asset at risk.
    There is a long list of issues, I suggest, of why many false assumptions were made made to justify the sanction of MF, that lie at the feet of Gilbert Bennett. I suggest a FRP (Request for Proposals) be issued for the construction for the flogging structure…..the construction material should not have dry rot. Dry rot is a flaw not readily detected from the outside. In a damp climate like ours (we just had 60 hrs of continuous 97 percent RH), dry rot seems a serious problem, not just for wood.
    Unless others can enlighten me why I am wrong, I think Gil would be number one on the flogging list. In the USA there is the FBI list, for wanted criminals…..here we need the flogging list….it sort of fits with our heritage of the fishing admirals way of justice. Time to bring it back, but for those in high office or positions that misbehave, such that their actions or inactions is detrimental to the public good.
    Winston Adams

  3. It should have been obvious, our local FBI list ( Flogging Board of Investigation) ……something like the Inquisition, where you are forced to admit your grave sins, to avoid the death penalty. The Inquisition had many ways were torture was permitted, and this long before waterboarding became popular.
    To be current with modern communication, a full list of offences of those on the list shall be posted. But evidence of the offences should be subject to freedom of Information rules and usual delays of a year or more. And the chief investigator for our FBI should have the right to give Pardon. For example, John Crosbie, (as proposed by Bruno to be on the list)………. due to his advanced age, and the time frame of his sins, might be considered for a pardon, I suggest.
    The list should be be made public, something like the Sunshine List. Main Media officials shall not be exempt from the FBI list, as often they are enablers. Nor would so called peace officers or members of the judiciary be exempt, and even the reference to Royal or connection thereto shall not be a reason to be exempt from the list.
    The objective of the FBI will be to bring about JUSTICE FOR ALL.

  4. Anyone notice that MUN refuses to say what the contract amount for the new Core Science building is that they awarded to Marco.
    And they refuse media in a public meeting to record or have TV cameras there….and are defiant against Minister Byrne to be accountable……….MUN …….an institution build on the concept to remember the cost of freedom by the sacrifice our young men in WW1…..but an institution that believes they are not accountable to the public who pays their costs. Absolute power corrupts absolutely……surely there are limits to their independence. 325 million for one new building when there is so little for all of Nfld for other necessary infrastructure………perhaps they are ashamed to acknowledge their waste and lack of accountability in these times of so called time of restraint , a call in the Throne speech to do more with less……..except for Nalcor and MUN.

    • I heard a CBC radio interview Ted Blades had with a MUN instructors' advocacy group representative the other day… she said that the president of MUN's secretary actually has a clothing allowance! Compliments of NL taxpayers of course.

      How infuriating is that?

      A province on the verge of bankruptcy footing the clothing bill for university president secretary.

      That's just bloody-well ridiculous.

    • A clothing allowance for MUN's president's secretary? Hmmm!!
      I'd say, Dwight will have Gil Bennett investigate this and give a report. This would constitute "extra work" for Gil who will submit his expenses and O/T and have his secretary keep track and submit his/her expenses and O/T which would of course be added to MF administrative expenses and at the review session be added to the list of extra work for MF administrative staff who because of their workload, have it paid in OT which Gil's secretary would have to scrutinize it to be approved by Gil when he gets time because of his workload in preparing the report which he is deligently working on. God!! His workload. I do feel for him.

  5. Watched the webcast from MUN……they seemed a nervous bunch, Kent guy had a twitch in his right eye like the Inspector on the Pink Panther movies. Golfman seems to want her head sink intoher sholders nad disappear…….like a turtle, same thing with ED Martin of Nalcor, and the MUN president, started by saying LET ME BE CLEAR….my God…..Donald Trump and his team say that all the time, and it is cover for meaning WE HAVE SOMETHING TO HIDE, so they are not being clear at all. Should not one always be clear, instead of misleading. It suggests you are not usually clear when you have to say let me be clear. Mumbo Jumbo!

  6. I watched the MUN webcast. MUN gets more than 300 Million a year from the government. Cost per student from the taxpayers to pay for this is something like 30,000 dollars. Foreign students say their cost here is about 3 times what Nfld students pay in fees etc, nevertheless all is a big expense on taxpayers. Nfld students spoke hardly a word.
    MUN`s assets, buildings etc is a value of some 3 billion (similar to all electrical generation and distribution assets in the province). MUN says they have a back log of 445 million in maintenance that they cannot afford to do, and is not being done, this is being deferred. Does deferred maintenance at the Holyrood plant and gas turbines ring a bell, and is only now being addressed, after DARKNL and Liberty recommendations on prudence.
    So at this time, some students pointed out whether it makes sense to defer the construction of the new science building, costing 425 million.
    Again ….any similarity here of proceeding with Muskrat while Holyrood and other assets were neglected, and now Holyrood may be a necessary permanent asset due to Muskrat reliability issues.
    And like sanctioning of Muskrat, the science building awarded quickly last week before dealing with their budget shortfall……..like too late now, the building is sanctioned,… and yet staff and instructors at MUN will be reduced going forward tuition will rise…..but we will have more infrastructure even though we cannot do maintenance on the existing buildings.
    Sounds like the same sound reasoning as used for Muskrat, and now demand for power is dropping and reliability of MF power is in question.
    Does this method of economics for power generation and MUN spending fit the definition of insanity……..
    MUN webcast invited questions and comments, I posted on line to MUN this :
    All government budgets must suffer, including MUN`s, due to the 12 billion Muskrat Falls boondoggle.
    Why did MUN`s economic and engineering departments not assess Demand side Management using Conservation and efficiency such as Efficiency Nova Scotia and other jurisdictions, which has been very beneficial and costs some 10 times less than Muskrat Falls power.
    Wade Locke could be seen up front in the audience. The anxiety of students and staff in the audience, was apparent …of being subjected to hard economic decisions.
    And I wondered what Locke might be thinking.
    I thought Locke is fit for the FBI list, for the public flogging, and maybe even ahead of GiL Bennett. After all, someone had to sell this bill of goods to Williams as being economic……at some 6 billion overbudget, think of how a small bit of that would have solved MUN`s problem. And Locke had the gall to be there and see the fallout on his own institution, MUN.
    Off to the stockade Wade, I say.
    Winston Adams

    • Good stuff Winston. A well directed re-engineering of the MUN heating and ventilation plant, (CHP), could reduce the energy demand from the grid by say 30-50%. This would go a long way towards reduced overhead, and re-directing "saved energy" where best utilized. This is what NY State and NE did in response to OPEC in the 70's and 80's. NL Engineers and Owners did not meet this obvious challenge. Time to step up. Try a little "Zero Net Energy" with respect to the new science building. Lots of heat energy going to waste in Kent's pond, Arctic Vessel, Aquarena, etc.

    • Does anybody know what was traded off, (deemed too expensive), following the tender bid, in order to get Marco the science building contract? Could it be that life cycle cost savings of the CHP retrofit and upgrade were taken off the table so to speak? Cheap and dirty M&E design will not get us further along the road towards "Zero Net"

  7. The Telegram offers interesting reading today……the issue of MUN's budget cuts, Maurice Adams'fine piece on the issue of the Risk of the North Spur, and also the issue of Mr Coffey moonlighting………
    Coffey..our chief adviser to the Premier and the Chairman of the Muskrat oversight Committee, is in private suing Nalcor on behalf on a client who was dismissed from Nalcor. Coffey, a Liberal who once wanted the Premiers job, says …..no ploblem….he set up a Chinese Wall to separate conflict of interest !
    Is this something like the Trump Wall……..the biggest, and best and least cost wall of protection!. The Chinese Wall was built over 2000 years ago. to keep out the barbarians. One Mother of all Booms would expose it's weakness.
    Does a Chinese Wall give us much security that Coffey has good ethical standards? Ball says.. not a problem………which is an inference to Ball's own ethical standards, me thinks.
    Coffee seems to have his fingers in all matters, public and private…..Nalcor, those suing Nalcor, The Law Society, Works for issues of the Medical association………not sure if he will also support the journalist Blake who is up on charges in Goose Bay………
    How high was that Chinese Wall………gosh I bet Coffey could jump that with ease.
    Coffey….a candidate for the FBI list……….just wondering.

  8. Worth noting, tomorrow is Trumps 100th day in office……he had achieved nothing , despite signing dozens of presidential order that have no effect, except those orders that are detrimental to the environment.
    He just announced another in a speech to the NRA (the gun lobby group). He announced he was reversing the ban of lead used in shells from being used on federal lands, and to this everyone cheered.
    Now lead was done away for use in paints and gas, it damages brain in children and animals. For guns, I thought lead was long ago replaced by steel shot. Lead can get consumed by other other birds and animals and not good long term. Maybe this is his biggest 100th day achievement for Trump. Is this guy just crazy, or really evil………..the Dr Evil character is no worse ………just where is the US of A headed.
    Compare Roosevelt achievements in 100 days, during the depth of the Great Depression.
    As for Ball……well, on the local level we don't expect much here in 100 days. I suppose we have reigned in our 20 billion debt by 100 dollars…..that is our 100 mark.
    But we do hear a lot about walls. We here about benonite walls at the North Spur…….not much good they say…..and not even tested for performance.Then there is the occasional Chinese wall, Danny Williams used one……… not much good either, and Coffey likes Chinese walls,but the ex-Constable Premier says it is a sham.
    Everyone built wall years ago, but was often a hide out for rats, an elder in my community told me. he struggled to keeps rats out of his cellar.
    And Pope Francis, of course, recommends fences instead of walls.
    Is there any such thing as a good Nfld wall?

  9. Emera is laying the cables between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to bring Muscrat power to power to Nova Scotia. NL Hydro/Emera is running cable from Muscrat Falls to Soldiers Pond on the Avalon. My question is how does MF power get from the East Coast to the West coast? Just kidding, but do the NL taxpayers/ratepayers know that we will be sending low cost power from Bay d Spier and paying at least four times as much for Muscrat power in 2021?
    Gerry Goodman

  10. Those that follow Uncle Gnarley know, and a bit more than half now oppose MF………..but how to stop it and avoid wasting another 6 billion or loss of life from the dam failure…….that is the 12 billion dollar question. We are on a very slow learning curve. MUN is in trouble, cannot do maintenance on their buildings, a big deal due to 12 million reduction………yet billions going to Muskrat.
    EDUCATION……what`s it good for ……..nothin
    I don`t want no education.
    Believe there was a song once with those lines.
    Are we any smarter now than a century ago……..more educated, but no smarter……..wonder why. Really a puzzle.
    Harvard is quietly putting a pause on investments in fossil fuel. They have billions of dollars in endowment funds, and for ethical reasons are avoiding oil, gas, and coal commpanies. Here, MUN and our government is handcuffed to oil investment. Harvard has some 200 year history head start on us. They are not only educated , but smarter. Their students have spearheaded the move to stop investing in fossil fuel companies. When have MUN students ever taken an ethically stand on anything.
    At 300 million a year expense, maybe we should close MUN completely. A big sinkhole. I. a Bayman, and others got degrees outside Nfld. MUN is not value for cost. That most do not realize the truth of your question shows the failure of MUN……..where at MUN, MF was blessed by all concerned, and now must suck it up, but seems determined to go down with the Rock, building more infrastructure that need to be paused.
    Tomorrow is the planned large climate change marches in Washington…….what event is planned at MUN…….does CORE SCIENCE include Climate Change Science……no better place than NFLD for that, as our fish species knows.
    Danny, Ball, Locke …….all …….have oil on the brain. In fact, most Nflders now suffer from that. No known cure.
    So, in conclusion, being oil rich, we can afford to pay 4 times the price for power than we charge Nova Scotia. Oil will soon be 200 dollars a barrel……just ask Wade Locke…….so everything will be fine.