Guest Post by James L. Gordon, P.Eng. (Ret’d)

Mr. Robin Dury, an engineering student at the Luleå
University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural
Resources Engineering, INSA Lyon, has undertaken a geotechnical analysis of the
North Spur as part of his studies towards a Master’s degree in Geotechnical
Engineering. He concludes that –

For assumed material properties and geometries of failure,
the critical load-carrying capacity is below 1000 kN/m whereas a rise of the
water level with 21 m
(to El. 39m) will give an increased load of Nq  = 2420 kN/m. This is more than
twice of what the ridge may stand with the assumed properties.

In other
words, the North Spur will fail when the reservoir is filled.

Mr. Dury presented his
78-page thesis on June 7th, 2017. He described the work as follows –

The work with the thesis has
been conducted under the guidance of Emeritus Professor Lennart Elfgren,
Structural Engineering, and Professor Jan Laue, Soil Mechanics and Foundation
Engineering, Luleå University of Technology, LTU. I am grateful to them for
their help and commitment. I also wish to express my gratitude to Dr. Stig
Bernander for the time and effort he took in sharing his knowledge on
progressive landslides with me.

Mr. Dury went to the
engineering school INSA de Lyon to study civil engineering. After 4 years spent
at INSA Lyon where he studied mostly geotechnics and structural analysis, he went
in 2016 to Luleå Tekniska Universitet in order to do his last year of Master
Degree before graduation. Then he wrote this thesis at the Department of Civil,
Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering.

The mathematical analysis in
the thesis is far too complicated to describe, as indicated by the following
extract for two typical equations –

Hence the thesis will be
described in non-technical terms as far as possible. All quotations from the
thesis are in bold italics. The summary states –

The so called Muskrat Falls Project consists
in the ongoing construction of a hydroelectric power plant in Churchill River
Valley, Labrador, Canada. The site hosting the project includes a land ridge
which is supposed to be used as a natural dam and thus be submitted to
important water pressures. Yet, previous landslides in the area have shown that
a stability analysis is worth to be carried out in order to ensure the safety
of the facility.

Until now, investigations have only been
carried out using the traditional limit equilibrium method and related
elastic-plastic theory. For the sake of simplicity, this approach does not take
into account deformations outside and inside the sliding body. However, because
of the soil features in Churchill River Valley and particularly its
‘deformation softening’ behavior, there is increasing evidence that the
conventional analysis is not relevant in this situation. Further, when
analyzing the total stability of the ridge, only a horizontal failure surface
has been used and not an inclined one, which is very optimistic and rather

The difference between the LEM and the Dury
analysis, is that the LEM methodology only assesses the stability of the dam
slopes, determining a safety factor against slips or a slope failure. On the
other hand, the Dury analysis looks at the entire Spur from upstream water
level to downstream water level, assessing the stability to resist the
horizontal force imposed on the Spur by the full reservoir water. The two
analysis are not comparable.

In order to provide a more reliable study, a
progressive failure analysis has been performed according to the finite
difference method of Dr. Stig Bernander. The development of a spreadsheet
adapted to this particular problem has allowed getting quickly and easily
numerical results for several cases of study and assumptions. For assumed
material properties and geometries of failure, the critical load-carrying
capacity is below 1000 kN/m whereas a rise of the water level with 22 m
(to El. 39.0m) will
give an increased load of Nq = 0,5
gw Hd 2 =
0,5∙10∙22 2 = 2420 kN/m. This is more than twice of what the ridge may stand
with the assumed properties.

The investigation has led to the conclusion that the situation will
be risky for many combinations of soil properties if the water level is raised
as high as initially planned. The investigation also shows that more material
tests are necessary and that stabilization work may be needed to eliminate the
risk for a landslide.

In other words, the geotechnical analysis
undertaken by SNC cannot be used on the soils in the North Spur, and a more
detailed analysis is required as advocated by Dr. Bernander as applicable to
sensitive clays. This is due to the reduction in strength when the sensitive
soil is subjected to significant deformation under load, not included in the
current method of analysis.

In sensitive soils, the failure mode has two
stages –

Stage I: After an elastic phase with shear
strength up to the linear limit, a plastic phase begins and the peak value c is
reached. This last event corresponds to the beginning of the formation of the
slip surface.

Stage II: A decline in strength occurs until
only the residual strength remains and the slope finally collapses.

Nalcor has performed its own stability
analysis by using the traditional limit equilibrium method (LEM). The main
issue is that this procedure is not justifiable for soils having such a high
porosity. In fact, high porous materials have a ‘deformation softening’
behavior far from the perfect elastic plastic behavior assumed with the LEM.
Thus, the analysis and safety factors calculated by Nalcor cannot be reliable.

The computer model developed for the analysis
broke the North Spur section into a mesh of triangles where the strength and
deformation of each triangle was calculated to determine the safety factor
against failure. This resulted in –

Safety Factor – The safety factor related to
local failure in this case is defined as:
Fs = Ncrit/Nq
= 981.7/2420 =

safety factor would have to be quadrupled to achieve a safety factor above 1.5
in order to avoid a failure, as recommended in the Canadian Dam Safety

In view of this result it is
now absolutely essential to convene a North Spur Review Board to determine the natural
dam safety factor and the remedial measures required to ensure stability.

Gordon, PEng. (Retired)
Editor’s Note: Partly in connection with the conclusion of the Thesis referred to in Jim Gordon’s Piece, and as a follow up to earlier demands made of government regarding the safety and stability of the North Spur, the Labrador Land Protectors and the Grand River Keepers sent a new “Open Letter” to Premier Dwight Ball on July 12, 2017. The letter was aalso ccompanied by attachments which readers may want access.  A Link to the Thesis is found here. An abstract of the Thesis is found here.  A copy of theOpen Letter” to Premier Dwight Ball and “Structure Document” explaining both the rationale and an acceptable Panel formation is also provided.


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 18 billion to complete, that has been banded about, does that include this kind of work on the north spur to avoid failure. Think you mentioned in your last Winston. But, can't get my mind around where NALCOR can get another 6 billion. There are no lenders for that kind of financing and Ottawa is not that stunned to guarantee that kind of cash. So the best solution is to run out of financing before completion. NALCOR declear bankruptcy… Does that in any way get us off the hook. Just asking….

  2. I would not toss out traditional engineering practice too quickly. Everyone is big on tradition these days. Nonetheless it might be worthwhile for Nalcor at this juncture to accept responsibility for the flooding at Mud Lake and relocate those people to higher ground and as well relocate people in other areas that would be at flood risk from failure of this dam.

    • And would be definitely worthwhile to stop this dam madness (we don't need the power, we don't control the water flow, we don't have the money, we don't have acceptable risk, we don't have the right to destroy the food supply, culture and health of people, we don't have the right take away the future of our children and grand children, etc., etc. —- for what? to placate the overblown ego and the pocket books of the few that control oir political parties)

    • I agree, traditional engineering has its place, however, any competent engineer should agree that this result more than warrants further investigation. I am engineer,and if I were working on this project, there would be no way I could put my faith in it without further analysis. Frankly I am stunned that they decided to move forward with the project given these purported results.

    • Thank you for your passionate summary Maurice. It is madness, deadly madness it now appears. Will some sanity appear and a halt to this time bomb happen now?

      The odds don't look good considering that as as Maurice points out sound engineering, need, cost were all irrelevant. The politics and political bullies ruled and steamrollered any opposition.

      Like in the 1920's the affiliation with the feudal political class transcends party or loyalty to the electorate. Will history repeat around the spur catastrophe or will a champion of sanity and fiscal responsibility appear?

      It is time to act!

    • The wannabe leader of the PC Party (Ches Crosbie), by calling for an all-party committee to frame an inquiry shows he is not his own man, but a product of the past, an outgrowth of the old feudal political class.

      And now (at this stage) we have the CFIB calling for the PUB to do oversight on the project. Too little, too late me thinks, and a way to put off an inquiry/forensic audit, review panel, etc.

      Embarrassing (another tool to keep the project going till finish).

    • Normally the person responsible for Safety on Site, has the authority to issue a stop work order, when Safety and/or the Environment are shown to be compromised . Does anyone know who this person is?

    • Normally the person responsible for Safety on Site, has the authority to issue a stop work order, when Safety and/or the Environment are shown to be compromised . Does anyone know who this person is?Me thinks this person may be taking home two paychecks!

    • Ches' all party committee shows he isn't going to be any better then the "leaders" we have had since 2000 here in NL. Never has a more unqualified bunch existed as NL MHAs to review Boondoggle Falls, simply out of their depth.

      NF power and Fortis have also been silent on MF and are just as responsible as Nalcor and Hydro for its disaster. Only recently admitting sharp price increases in electricity will see a demand decline whereas that's common sense. NFPs silence was the same as admitting all of Nalcor's data was 100% correct and they trusted them.
      CFIB are late to the game $180M more in costs PLUS $400M+ in ratepayers cost of excessive rates is $600M less for customers. 3-4% of ALL disposable income in NL is the cost of MF 23c kWh electricity rates.

  3. Nobody should be living downstream of this dam. It will be like the sword of Damocles waiting to fall at any time. If it doesn't fail immediately, all it will take is a small earth tremor to liquefy the quick clay. If it is to be finished no matter what, then we need to relocate everything downstream and then declare the area a wildlife preserve / danger zone. Of course, once the dam fails, the generation facility is a huge stranded asset. The obviously solution to the mess is to stop the dam immediately and cut our losses. The failure of the North Spur will earn us a place in the history books along with major engineering disasters like the Quebec bridge.

  4. Government should take this decision out of Nalcor's hands by taking immediate action to appoint a panel of geo-technical experts, rather than waiting until a catastrophic event occurs. The warning signs are loud and clear!

    The conclusion is that the methodology used to assess the safety of the North Spur is inadequate and risk of failure is high.

    I recommend you watch the Rissa video. It can be found at . Anyone who has not watched this video cannot understand how serious a problem we are dealing with. By happenstance, someone was on the ground at Rissa with a video recorder when it all began and managed to preserve a record of a series of landslides and the collapse of a hill about the length of the North Spur.

    The Rissa landslides began on April 29, 1978. The trigger event was the piling of ground that had been excavated in digging a basement, on the riverbank. This set in motion a quick series of slides, getting larger and larger, and collapsing into the water with incredible speed. Houses and farms were swallowed up in the turbulent waters, roiled by the slides.

    To quote from the thesis, in the Muskrat Falls project “the triggering agent would essentially be the water pressure which will increase” (p. 39) because the water will rise from 17 m to 39 m. Imagine the weight of water bearing on the Spur! “On the basis of the outcome of this study, we can affirm that the North Spur does not form a safe and reliable part of the impoundment wall.” (p.44)

    The tragic consequences of a failure at the North Spur could be much greater than the damage arising from the landslides at Rissa.

    The other essential video to watch is the Facebook video of the February meeting in Labrador of the Labrador Land Protectors with the Premier and four MHAs. It can be found at . Only by watching this video can people on the Island gain some small understanding of the existential threat which the North Spur poses to people who live close to Muskrat Falls.

    The April 2013 SNC Lavalin risk assessment noted the lack of geo-technical work placed the project in a high risk category. Whether Nalcor’s work from April 2013 has been effective in mitigating this risk can only be ascertained through the work of the expert panel of geo-scientists, which must be appointed by government independently of Nalcor.

    Maybe the North Spur is the hill on which Muskrat Falls will die? It may be impossible or non-economic to remediate. If such is the case the generation component may have to be terminated and written off as a horrible mistake!

    David Vardy

    • Vardy:

      I would ask does our government have the knowledge to appoint a qualified review panel? And what type of bench testing and desktop analysis needs to accompany the field work?

      I am not sure most have the ability to understand the resumes of the Zakeris, Popescus, Horiis et al of the field…. The experience and academia level required for this type of analysis is is very deep—any of us geotechs can identify the issue, but few can solve it….

      I agree 100% that an indepth analysis is needed—just not sure who I would nominate to participate if I were asked that question….

    • Mr. Vardy, many thanks for providing the link to that most interesting yet quite perturbing youtube video.

      I've frequently stated in less-than-wry terms that NLers would be much better off being governed by the competent and practical Norwegians… rather than than the homegrown crop of inept dimwits and dodgy culprits that always seem to be attracted to NL politics.

  5. Anonymous
    Good questions. What kind of research investigations are needed will have to be decided by the Panel. The kind of expertise required would be similar to the skills of the panel on the Mount Polley incident where the chair was Dr. Norbert Morgenstern. Government will need to consult widely to find the right people to undertake this task but governments are always faced with these challenges. This was a challenge they faced with the breast cancer problem for which Justice Cameron was selected as chair. In light of the need to review highly technical reports and to examine experts I think we need a technical panel which is totally independent of Nalcor. The panel should examine all documents and review the research. In the case of the Mount Polley panel they also conducted their own research program. This appears to be necessary as well at the North Spur.
    David Vardy

    • For those unfamiliar, Mt. Polley was the catastrophic BC earth dam failure caused by gross negligence by a "Self regulated, Professional Reliance" mine operator. Look it up on Google. Nobody went to jail. Luckily there was no Mud Lake downstream. At the time our MLA claimed that the tailings did not taste too bad.

  6. Does anyone know when the reservoir is to be filled? Is there an online resource that shows the level of the water upstream of the dam? The minister responsible has to act immediately to ensure the safety of those living downstream. Nalcor cannot be trusted now to give us this assurance. It must come from our government upon consultation with experts outside of the project. This analysis has come to conclusions which show a threat to human life. The government cannot ignore this now that it is public domain. Can we get faculty members from MUN's Engineering school to comment to comment? It is time to put politics aside and investigate. With full transparency.

    John D Pippy, B.Eng.

    • John, the level was 21.5 meter elevation until recent modest reduction, about 18 in or 2 ft down now, per recent info on one of the articles on the
      The feds has a gauge that had data in real time, but not much value now with the spillway there. Nalcor have a new gauge there, but not online data , so no one know the level except what they say………seems this should be real time info as the feds have provided for decades.
      Winston Adams

  7. Engineering science and engineering practice are not the same thing. Advances in science may temporarily appear to be counter to good practice. Whilst the implications should be evaluated carefully, science may temporarily mislead the unwary but that should not intimidate experienced engineers or their project owner.

    • Seems what you overlook is that no large dam like this anywhere in the world is composed of considerable quick clay. What is good practice for foundations of known properties can be reliable and safe when properly designed…….but this foundation is abnormal, it appears, and to what extend requires more evaluation, as traditional methods do not apply to analysis for quick clay.
      This is not a matter of intimidation of experienced engineers and the project owner, but one of reasonable safety, especially for a company that says safety is number one.
      This boondoggle is a result of false assumptions, as stated by Stan Marshall. The analysis done here by Nalcor and the stabilization appears very possible to be another false assumption, as I see it.
      Winston Adams

    • WA:

      My background is an advanced degree in geotechniques and 20yrs civil experience in NL—-as I said earlier to Vardy, I am barely qualified to assess the resumes of those need to do this review and to identify the issues with this thing. I understand the issues and could possible lead a field program but am not nearly qualified to determine final remediation required.

      To me, this needs to be assessed as no less a technical feat of landing the first man on the moon… From what I have read and experienced on this project—it seems as if everyone is awestruck by the 'sexy' factor of standing towers/pulling wire and moving stators with the 'moving dirt and pouring concrete' seen as rudimentary….

      I see a fail of epic proportions coming at the hands of a group of engineers that ignored engineering 1st principles….


    • PENG2. I appreciate your comments on the North Spur, and I agree, this is a very difficult technical issue, but so critical to have the best available expertise, as to safety and the possible risk to losing this expensive asset. The videos of what happens fro slides due to quick clay is dramatic, and that steel drill pipe sank some 20 feet under its own weight at the North Spur is an example of building on mud…….but how much mud……no one knows for sure.
      I too marvel at the PR of erecting towers by helicopter and ignoring the tower foundation quality and access, as you mention. (In 1976, I used a helicopter to lift two air conditioners on the roof of Nfld Hydro Philip Building, so hardly a novel approach. I did it at daylight to avoid traffic and media, and a vacant parking lot)
      Your words of expecting a fail of epic proportions should wake up those in authority. We need more engineers to join your effort on this blog for transparency on critical issues. There is a wall to silence engineers who know the facts……
      I applaud your decision to express your views on UG and urge others at Nalcor and the power companies to do likewise.
      Winston Adams

  8. Part of the answer of Nunatsiavut to the Land Protectors released yesterday.

    Questions were raised by the Nunatsiavut Government following statements this spring from Nalcor’s Chief Executive Officer, Stan Marshall, that water levels would not be lowered in the reservoir until at least the middle of July. In response, Nunatsiavut President Johannes Lampe reached out to Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball and expressed concerns that the commitment to lower levels in the spring was not being honored. On June 21, the Premier announced that Nalcor had been directed to immediately lower levels in a controlled and safe manner.
    Water was initially released from the reservoir following the Premier’s directive. The release was suspended as Nalcor was concerned about erosion of soil along the river bank within the reservoir. The Nunatsiavut Government has been assured that water levels continue to be lowered in a safe and controlled manner. Nalcor and the Province have also been asked to confirm when water levels are expected to reach natural levels.

    That passage should ring some bells, n'est-ce pas? – On June 21, the Premier announced that Nalcor had been directed to immediately lower levels in a controlled and safe manner.
    Water was initially released from the reservoir following the Premier’s directive. The release was suspended as Nalcor was concerned about erosion of soil along the river bank within the reservoir.

  9. The telegram editorial today says we must take steps to combat climate change…..a BURNING ISSUE. Likely written by Russell.
    But short on suggestions, in fact , no suggestions.
    Here are some
    1. taper back and reduce and stop entirely oil extraction.
    2. Initiate robust energy conservation and efficiency: our own Efficiency NL, separate form the power companies
    3. Bring on the carbon tax, and feed it back to customers for efficiency improvements.
    4. Put a tax on air travel, a mojor contributor to GHG
    5. Acknowledge that Fortis dumps 15 million tons of GHG per year………those scallywags, who promote themselves as clean power.
    6. Initiate incentives for electric cars, and tax credits
    7. Mandate the power companies to cut peak load., and penalties for failure.
    8. promote passive housing for new starts, and minimum efficiency standards that exceed the codes…….enforced by municapalities……no permits unless tough standards are to be met.
    If the Telegram would comment on these it might help combat climate change. Waiting for the Chinese or Trump to change color, is not enough……….we inhabit one earth…….our oil does the same damage as the Saudi oil.
    Winston Adams

    • Winston I'm not too sure NFP/Fortis are on the ratepayers side either. After talking to one NFP employee they said net metering should be at the same rate as the cost to generate Bay d'Espior power 1c kWh, 8% of the current retail price. $18,000-$50,000 to install solar and wind on ones property and even if they had an excess amount of power = the average 62GJ of energy per home usage that's a measly $177.22 from net-metering, not even a single 1% RoI. This employee thought Dunderdale was doing a good job at the time and was a blatant MF homer. NFP seems stuck in the past and don't want to innovate, lower peak demand or attempt anything new.
      3 MILLION bbls of oil used annually at HRT and a power employee doesn't want to see that reduced via net-metering or other methods? NFP scared of competition with the 5MW limit placed on net-metering? 2% peak demand is the minimal amount in other places that allow net-metering or 36MW on the Island.
      NFP has been silent on the third line from Bay d'Espior application that was taken back by Nalcor, one engineer pointed out 2 lines at max capacity will see greater loss V three lines, how many extra bbls of oil have been used since the application was taken back?

      At first I thought NFP were separate from Crown corps Nalcor and Hydro for Boondoggle Falls but their silence on the insane demand and cost forecasts makes them complicate as well.

      If NFP isn't up to the task of energy efficiency or a reduction in peak demand time for their monopoly as a utility to end.

    • AC, Fortis and Nfld Power is almost as much to blame as Nalcor and Nfld Hydro, they are birds of a feather, and are second worst in Canada for customer efficiency measures and efforts to reduce peak demand. Simple : it reduces their revenue and therefore profits, so energy waste is good for shareholders and bad for ratepayers…… they duck their heads and hope Nalcor gets all the blame for this boondoggle, and they may even profit more.
      The ratepayers in Nova Scotia rebelled against that type of behaviour a decade ago,forcing the government to change things, and so they now lead the country in efficiency measures and other things to bring down peak demand and also helps customers and keeps rates stable.
      Notice this:
      Marshall, ex Fortis boss and major Forts share holder now heads Nalcor
      John Green, lawyer for Fortis transferred to Nalcor , I believe
      Clyde Wells, one time head of Nfld Power, and who wanted Fortis to take over Nfld Hydro, now heads the Independent advisory appointments board.
      Bern Coffee, who was head prosecutor when Clyde Wells was in government, was appointed to Nalcor Oversight Commmittee, though in conflict , and was silent on MF once on the Oversight
      All this under Ball.
      Ball recently pals with Fortis on possible Gull Island development, amid the MF fiasco
      Feds who came a few months ago on carbon tax issue: no one from government, but Barry Perry of Fortis in the lead at that meeting, saying go slow…… reported by Ashley at the Telegram
      Fortis saying they want more opportunities in Nfld , they have a unused line of credit of 3.5 billion, and say there should be only one power company in Nfld, at their recent AGM.
      They play it smart for shareholders but are not the friend of ratepayers……..and had the opportunity to more forcefully discredit MF before sanction, but for them better to say little, watch the boondoggle unfold, and benefits may fall into their lap………….until the ratepayers wisens up to their greed……..and need I add Fortis pumps out 15 MILLION TONS of GHG per year on their overall operations! A dirty dirty scallywag! But the light will shine on them soon, when rates hit shock increases. They send out the bills.
      Winston Adams

  10. It seems that the only (official) source of honest information from inside Nalcor and Government… is, or has been, Mr. Stan Marshall.

    It's time now to call on Stan for some more honesty before citizens drown and/or lose whatever may be left of their lives, homes and families.

    First Stan wanted to wait til mid-July to lower the water, despite an agreement to do it in the Spring. Why was that Stan?

    Next, due to public pressure, they began to lower the water, at what somebody deemed to be a reasoned rate of release to achieve "a controlled and safe manner".

    But then, they had to drastically slow the release rate because "Nalcor was concerned about erosion of soil along the river bank within the reservoir." Which simply means that it wasn't a controlled and safe manner, as they had estimated or assumed.

    So Stan, was there was an error in that engineering assesment, or was the erosion factor simply underestimated, through inadequate engineering efforts… or worse yet was it ignored or assumed ? Please speak up Sir because the assurance "that water levels continue to be lowered in a safe and controlled manner." has proven to be fallacy.

    "Nalcor and the Province have also been asked to confirm when water levels are expected to reach natural levels." That spin means absolutely nothing without an answer. So what is the scheduled date for this Stan?

    We're already knee deep into summer, so the "agreement" that the Premiers rammed down the throats of Aborinal "leaders" has been violated. It too was/is fallacy… (or it was an outright fraud to begin with).

    Phrases from our Premier during his P.R. fly in to view the Mud Lake fiasco contain no substance and amount to pure spin also.

    Ball said when it comes to the health and safety of residents, "we're not going to put that at risk." But they already have, (the flooding of the community of Mud Lake, the dangerous error in rate of release, the imminent methyl mercury poisonings, the lack of real oversight, the lies and coverups that effect safety….). Arguably 3 or 4 deaths are related to this project already, (one RCMP officer's suicide, one industrial accident last winter and two more in recent weeks). How many more will it take Stan?

    Stan, nobody expects you to control nature, or natural disasters, but you DO control this unnatural disaster. It's about to blow up in your face at the peril of many (more) lives. We've learned that psychopaths don't seem to care much about legacy, but do you Stan? Aren't three or four lives lost enough?

    Ball said. "We need to put in preventative measures to prevent this from happening again," (referring to the Mud Lake fiasco). There's only one set of "preventative measures" that will work. It comes in three acts…
    1. an independent engineering assessment of the North Spur before the construction progresses ANY further.
    2. a Forensic Audit
    3. a public inquiry into how the entire project is, and has been, "managed".

    Without these three elements… we are left with the lies, errors and false assumptions that will (certainly) cause more deaths.

    I have no engineering degrees, nor any experience in constructing dams, but I know what to do.

    Before it's too late …. do you Mr Marshall?

    Peter Austin, Citizen

  11. MF has a peak capacity of 824 MM, but on average only about 560. To go to max capacity required a draw down of the water level, a max of 18 in or so. When we get cold snaps in St John`s, about 3 times each winter, this requires an additional 200MW or so, it comes on fairly quickly and lasts about 3 days.
    This required a substantial draw down of the water level in winter, if it is not well coordinated with the flow of the Upper Churchill. If not, then soil erosion on the banks, though under ice, could be substantial. Also increased production and water flow through MF could, it seems, surface flood the downstream frozen river, causing problems. And still there is no agreement with HQ on the water flow of the Upper Churchill.
    Given the flooding at Mud Lake, the flows at MF seem critical to avoid future flooding downstream.
    The concern for stable and slow changes in water elevation upstream now seem at odds with the rapid increase in elevation downstream of MF (per the feds water gauges) leading up to the flood of Mud Lake.
    Surely they need to explain to the residents the risks and concerns and their mode of operation this spring, and for the future.
    Saying `nalcor is not at fault` convinces no one, they have lost all credability, and now keep secret the current data on the water elevation , instead of having this available in real time as to the Feds on their water gauges. Why is that…….
    Winston Adams

    • Winston, from your own experience, would the permanent Operator of the reservoir already be in place? or what we are seeing is the "contractor" playing with the draw down during construction phase? What level of construction Builder's Risk Insurance would you say is in place say to cover normal construction risks, and Public Liability, (Catastrophic dam failure). Usually when the Owner/Operator plays with the toy, the insurance coverage i.e. withdrawn. My point is that could it be possible that NALCOR are in this way negating their own risk coverage. This problem arises where the Owner is it's own project manager. As Costello would ask; "Who's on First"?

    • As I interpret from Des`s previous piece, it seems Nalcor`s subsidary was in charge of the water management and control, yet wanted to hold the contractor responsible, not for the flooding, but the small delay caused by the hold up of a few land protectors.
      It seems the contractor is now between a rock and a hard place, where this has gone public: it points a lot of blame not on the contractor but Nalcor`s Muskrat Falls subsidary, owners of the works there.
      Yet is obvious that the contractor, who were in the know of the actual operation, believed the owner both released water inappropriately and failed to control the water appropriately.
      To suggest this an act of god, beyond anyone`s control, the contractor says not so…………not sure if they had their time back they would want to say that……..but it came down to who pays for the few hours delay, caused by land protectors.
      I suspect that Nalcor`s subsidary was in fact in control of the gates, and other options to control ice, and water flow, or the contractor would not have stated it the way they did.
      And to blame God for the flooding of Mud Lake……..well convenient to deflect blame ………I mean, when you have a boondoggle, there is lots of blame going on……..but to blame God,( well Mother Nature they would argue), would solve a lot of problems, and they are running out of who or what to blame for all the false assumptions of this project.
      Insurance……..I have never engaged much in insurance coverage issues, but I suspect the contractor is very knowledgeable about what happened there……..and if it was the contractor`s responsibility, the flood may not have happened, being more prudent in operation and control of the flow. As Des says, they had good reason to keep on eye on this, least they be blamed for something not their fault.
      Me …….I think Nalcor is as guilty as sin in this. Not absolutely, but 99 percent feel this way. Now they need consultants and evidence to prove otherwise. They have been very successsful with this approach so far……to get the answer you pay for. Call in the `experts`. Time will tell. And we ratepayers get dinged for all the costs anyway.
      Winston Adams

  12. It remains to be seen whether there is enough money available to harness this river at this location. It will require only a drop in the bucket to carry out another review. To successfully dam the water at this location however may require enormous chunks of money and time.