Guest Post by Cabot Martin
post on the Uncle Gnarley Blog – entitled Premier Needs Quebec Judge’s Help On Forensic Audit – was about possible criminal activity on the Muskrat
project and the need for a forensic audit.
previous piece I authored – back in May – was called Of Deceit, Emera and Muskrat Madness. It described a possible action of civil deceit
against Emera with respect to their very burdensome Muskrat contracts with Nalcor.
good friend Con O’Brien is quick to point out, over-riding all is the North
be halted for that reason alone – Now.
issue sometimes (all the time?) gets lost in the Muskrat shuffle.
go through it yet one more time.
unpredictable and can involve relatively small amounts of energy.
this excellent, very frightening, Norwegian video on the 1978 Rissa Quick Clay
the very start how simply digging out a small amount of fill to extend a barn
basement caused a slide that extended some 12 km on the flat.
initiating event – big impact.
progressive downhill slide can be initiated by the reactivation of an old slump;
can move at a fast rate; slides can happen in two stages.
instance of a two-phase slide is the deadly 2014 Oso Slide in Washington State
an aerial view shortly after the slide.
link to one of the innumerable articles on the Oso slide.
To put it
simply, the Oso Slide started upslope on one side of the river, rushed as a mass
of liquified mud across the river, through a subdivision at 60 miles per hour, across
the river valley and upslope on the other side of the river.
is a combination of Rissa (Quick Clay) and Oso (steep slope hovering over a
flat river valley).
The image below is a
Google Earth shot of the North Spur area; the river is flowing from left to
right; north is at the top.
how it naturally dams the river and makes it flow around Spirit Mountain and
over the two falls that together make up Muskrat Falls. The power house and
general construction site are on the southside of the river.
clay is to be found throughout the area south of the white line which
represents the Trans Labrador Highway. It is a big area; the Spur itself alone
is 1 km long.
who thinks they can stop the downhill movement of tens of millions of tonnes of
unstable glacio-marine clay covering several square kilometers, stretching from
the North Spur proper all the way back uphill to the Trans Labrador highway, by
puny “stabilization methods” on the Spur, should turn in their iron ring.
Spur together with all this North Spur rip rap and cut off walls
would be (as Dr. Bernander has said) “ swept away like matchsticks” if a
Downhill Progressive Landslide is initiating up slope anywhere up to the Trans
is set to come down – indeed at any moment the whole hillside can turn into a
catastrophic flood of liquid clay that would bury the work site and all on it.
can happen is simple:
slump up towards the Trans Labrador Highway.
motion is big enough to set the lower portion of the area in motion liquifying
miles an hour across, first the river, then the spillway/ powerhouse area,
covering it and everyone in the area with 30 or 40 feet of liquid mud.
river valley until gravity takes over and the liquid clay settles back into
it’s path of destruction.
would for a while seal off the Lower Churchill River
for long – for it truly is a mighty river.
now free to seek out its old channel north of Spirit Mountain – the channel
used before the North Spur was created.
is presently at tidewater – elevation zero; solid rock is down another 800 or so feet.
the river starts cutting down it will not stop till it gets to
basement rock – I am informed by a reliable/experienced/qualified source that
given the depth of clay and sand to solid rock upstream the downcutting can be
assumed to extend in a deep trench some 35 miles upstream to the foot of the
Gull Island rapids.
immediate impact on the Muskrat site is that it would be a devastated site, permanently completely useless and the location of death.
be the greatest civil disaster in Canadian history.
from SNC Lavalin to Nalcor to the Labor Unions – not to mention the Minister
responsible for Dam Safety – have learnt to live with their studied ignorance
in this matter.
not like a major downhill slide hasn’t happened before in the North Spur area.
blow-up of the lower left-hand corner of the image immediately above. The brook
on the right is Lower Brook. There is a pull off & Lookout with picnic tables
just before the sharp road bend to the north.
on the north side of the road is solid rock – harder than the Hobs of Hell.
on the south side of the road drops quick over a cliff.
jumbled pattern in the vegetation between the bottom of the cliff and the
within living memory, the scene of a major slide – certainly large enough to
take out the North Spur.
back in the late thirties or early forties, some trappers were spending the
night in their cabin in the area between Lower Brook and what was to become the
their friends they heard an incredible noise in the middle of the night rush
down the slope like a freight train going real fast.
daylight came, they realized the slide, that had started up slope, had just missed
Nalcor has instructed all it’s consultants to assume that such down hill slides
cannot occur in the Muskrat Falls area.
to the Judge.