Guest Post by Cabot Martin
approach the Muskrat tipping point.
painful – a prospect emphasised by the recent release of the SNC-Lavalin May
17, 2013 Risk Assessment Report following on the revelations of the “Anonymous
Engineer” on pre-sanction “book cooking”
as first revealed on Uncle Gnarley.
Stand by for
more and escalating leaks.
surest sign of the coming storm is the return to public airways of one Ed
Martin, former Nalcor CEO.
Like a character
in poorly made sequel of a powerful horror movie, Mr. Martin continued on CBC
TV to spout the same sort of World Class nonsense that has helped put us in our
present terrible Muskrat bind.
inadvertent hilarity was his attempt to say that nothing that has occurred since
his departure can be blamed on him.
of an arsonist who tries to tell the Court:
me Your Honour if the building burnt to the ground. It wasn’t half gone when I
left the scene; blame the rest on the Fire Department who did a poor job of containing
my raging inferno.”
and your cohorts will be held accountable for the whole Muskrat mess.
recently released and decidedly curious SNC-Lavalin document of May 2013 is any
pretty damming document – even if it doesn’t cover all the bases; for instance,
nothing on Nalcor’s use of crude oil prices wildly unrealistic by industry
standards even at sanction in December 2012.
in part understandable as the SNC Lavalin report’s orientation is engineering.
parts on the lack of geotechnical support for cost and safety analysis before
sanction are hair raising enough by themselves.
has built or been in on the building of a sub-division, warehouse, office
building or dream home (let alone a Multi-Billion Dollar hydro dam in the
wilds of Labrador) knows that the very first and critical thing you do in
planning a project is find out about the ground on which you plan to build.
ordinary building, if you ignore or get the ground conditions wrong, you can
expect to face big cost over runs.
are building a massive hydro dam, if you ignore or get the ground conditions
wrong, you will not only face big cost over runs – you will also put peoples
lives at risk.
incumbent on Nalcor and it’s technical advisors to strictly ascertain the risk
of catastrophic failure because of soil chemistry, insufficient soil strength, poor
load bearing, the flow of water from fractured rock and other critical aspects
of the Muskrat Falls ground conditions.
could only be done by measuring and judging those factors by means of a
comprehensive geotechnical program carried out by qualified independent
engineers and geo-technicians.
SNC-Lavalin say about the amount of geotechnical work that had been done when Nalcor
asked for and received Project Sanction from the Dunderdale Government in
Dam and its associated coffer dam – you know, that’s the place where all winter they have been grouting,
grouting, grouting to seal up cracks in the riverbed rock to stop water coming
up through the exposed “dried up “ riverbed behind the coffer dam.
geotechnical work under the Muskrat Falls switchyard
geotechnical on the Trans Labrador Transmission Right of Way
critical North Spur
limited geotechnical investigations have been performed on the North Spur
adverse conditions could be discovered during construction leading to major
rework, cost overruns and delays. COMMENT: Because of Geotech uncertainties ,
we could find bolder (sic) or unstable soil which could result in a major scope
change .– all quoted
verbatim from the SNC Lavalin May 2013 Report which adds RISK LEVEL – VERY HIGH ; CONSEQUENCE –
change“ with regard to an admittedly unstable dam component like the North Spur
is engineer code for “Your proposed North Spur stabilization design could be unsafe
and to make it safe will require as yet unknown and un-costed extra work.”
is that geotechnical conditions may be found (like Quick Clay) which will in
effect be impossible to cure.
can’t cure that problem, you will have to cancel the whole project because use
of the North Spur as a key (nearly 50%) component of the overall dam system is
an essential element of the project.
situation at the date of sanction (and still is) a real and present risk .
all Nalcor’s bluster, the amount of geotechnical information on the North Spur is
still totally inadequate – for instance, the drilling density on the North Spur
itself is still far too low and large areas (particularly upslope toward the
Trans Labrador Highway) are totally devoid of test drilling locations and drill
correct – right up to this very minute when the reservoir is partially filled
and lives downstream are in increased danger – catastrophic failure of the
North Spur is a real and present risk.
Nalcor has built a potential timebomb regarding whose character they have big
in December 2012, SNC Lavalin knew of Nalcor’s reckless position; and so did at
least some key Nalcor officials who were working side by side with SNC Lavalin.
Premier Dunderdale? or the Minister(s) of Natural Resources in her
administration? How about the Minister responsible for Dam Safety ? How about those who stand to benefit most –
say like Emera ?
didn’t SNC Lavalin speak up before Sanction instead of after ?
Bring on the Forensic Audit.
forget to take the audit all the way back to Danny’s original Muskrat Falls
feasibility/financing contract with SNC Lavalin in 2006.
– now all cleaned up they say – but back in 2006 what a lovely lot they were —
with CEO Pierre Duhaime and VP Riadh Ben Aissa dealing with Muskrat while at
the same time running an international corruption scheme including McGill
hospital construction contract bribes up in Montreal.
Charbonneau could, I am sure, suggest someone familiar with these lads to help
in the Forensic Audit.
no wonder there was talk just before sanction in December 2012, that the
Dunderdale Cabinet was getting cold feet and originally wanted to give Ed Martin
and Muskrat only a very qualified “sanction” – one conditional on no actual
construction contracts being let until further information was forthcoming.
floor drama surrounding how that particular near revolt against Nalcor was
defused is a story for another day.
On the other
hand, a discussion of the contents and SNC Lavalin’s purpose and timing in the
preparation of the recently released May 2013 document and Ed Martin’s “Report?
– what Report?” defence deserves immediate comment.
SNC Lavalin report is clear in stating that SNC Lavalin accepted that it had an
obligation to come clean to it’s client Nalcor on the fact that Muskrat was really
not ready to move ahead even if it had been “ sanctioned” by Government.
report, however revealing and thus helpful, has the distinct air of a
self-serving attempt by SNC Lavalin to construct a Firewall regarding it’s legal
liability regarding the Muskrat screw up after sanction had taken place.
deficiencies set out above and the other serious defects the Report points out are
glaring and they obviously weren’t discovered by SNC Lavalin all of a sudden in
March 2013 ; they must have been obvious to SNC Lavalin (and to at least some
of Nalcor’s engineers) in November 2012 prior to sanction.
there is Ed Martin and his “Never saw it” defence.
Pro Muskrat surrogates
are all over this on the airwaves; spinning, spinning, spinning.
say, was “at most in a room” when SNC Lavalin (in SNC Lavalin’s own words)
“attempted” to give Nalcor their damming document.
to give someone a critical document with billions and lives on the line?
someone fail in an “attempt” to deliver such a document with Ed Martin across
the Board Room table?
cries from Nalcor of “Report, no, no ! Not a Report! How dare you try to give
us a Report! Out with you.”?
Or did Ed simply
put his hands behind his back and say “I see no report; nice talking to you; have
a good day.”?
SNC Lavalin, in the face of such or similar behavior, simply slide its Report across the table and
say – “Here it is – don’t read it if you don’t want to – but we’ve done our
duty and you have been warned – Good Day.”
some sort of ritualistic co-operative pantomime with SNC able to say later:
Honour, we can’t be blamed – we “gave” them a report saying the thing was all
on the other hand, would be able to say at the same time
don’t look at us : what Report? there is no proof we ever took any SNC Lavalin
report or ever saw it.”
tangled webs we weave !
Boys. Lawyer up.