What was Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) doing at the
fly ash plant in Goose Bay two weeks ago? Did the Inspector order it closed, as
a local source — a former worker — reports?

According to the source, the plant was ordered closed but was back
in operation again within a day or two. 
The plant is the sole supplier of fly ash to the Muskrat Falls
project. The operation is housed in an old hangar near the Goose Bay Airport. The
building is reportedly in poor condition and, according to the former worker,
unsuitable for its current use given the toxic nature of fly ash. 
Fly ash is used in conjunction with (or as a partial
replacement for) Portland cement to improve a particular property of concrete (e.g.
to obtain slow hardening) or to restrict a specific chemical reaction.  It is a by-product of pulverized coal and this
source believes that, based upon product data sheets, the ash contains a high percentage
of silica.

Old hangar near Goose Bay Airport hosts silica fly ash operation

Research shows that initial exposure to silica dust may cause
irritation to the eyes, nose and throat. However, excessive amounts breathed over
a period of time can cause damage to lung tissue.

The source stated that OH&S closed the plant upon
discovering a number of safety and building violations. “An industrial
hygienist showed up from ServiceNL, shut it down and placed red DANGER tape on
the door”, he said.

The plant employs 6 to 8 workers per shift.  

According to the source, the facility is extremely dusty and individuals
entering the premises for even a short time become covered with the dust kicked
up by the machine that de-bags and processes the fly ash.

The building also recently suffered a collapse in the roof

The Uncle Gnarley source advised that “the roof was a problem,
but just one.” He stated that workers had long complained that “the building
contained no ventilation and not even a washroom or standard eyewash and
emergency shower facilities.”
“We couldn’t even wash up,” the worker added.  
The source wasn’t surprised that OH&S had visited the
plant but said he was surprised when he heard that it was allowed to re-open
within a day or so. “On Friday you have a red tape closing of the facility by
inspectors and the next day it’s back open. How were the deficiencies remedied
so quickly?” he asked. “It’s not as if OH&S works on weekends,” he added with
a laugh, “or that the deficiencies could be fixed within hours.”

The former employee stated that his biggest concern was
whether the dust masks worn by the workers gave them adequate protection. He
said he still worries about his breathing.

The Uncle Gnarley Blog was told that at least some of the
workers were issued a new type of dust mask before the building was re-entered.
This Blogger tried to contact Government’s OH&S
representative to confirm the source’s story, determine if OH&S had allowed
the operation to reopen, and confirm if the deficiencies cited by the former worker
had been addressed. The call to the inspector — an industrial hygienist — was
not returned.

The Grand River Keepers have obtained confirmation that
waste fly ash — i.e. material that got wet and is unusable because it has hardened —
is sent to the Happy Valley-Goose Bay landfill.

Full bag silica fly ash -HV-GB Landfill 
Empty and full bags silica fly ash – HV-GB Landfill

 An environmental engineer contacted by this Blog suggests that
the Town ought to have an analysis completed to determine if the material should
be accepted at the landfill or if it requires segregation. He suggested that
the quantities and the level of silica content would be key features of any
such analysis. 

If the material is toxic, he suggested, a report should be
immediately available. However, the Grand River Keepers representative who spoke
with Town officials stated that they seemed aware only that empty bags in which
the silica ash was shipped went to the landfill not that the dump also periodically
takes in large quantities of the industrial product.

The OH&S action gives credibility to several workers’
claims that Nalcor has been a consistently poor manager of safe work practices.

It is Nalcor’s job to audit its suppliers and contractors for
adherence to safe practices and procedures, not after — but before — a contract begins, which is the industry standard.

Considering the deficiencies in the old hangar described by
the former worker, Nalcor needs to state whether it certified this industrial
facility in the course of implementing its health and safety program, taking
into account the toxic nature of the product being processed.

If it is true, as the source reports, that the dust masks used
by the current workforce have been upgraded, does that mean that those which
had been previously issued to the workers were sub-standard?

In addition, OH&S ought to clarify its procedures, because
most operations don’t get to re-open until every major deficiency has been
remedied. In addition, we need to ask if Nalcor was advised of the plant’s
closure and if the Corporation still approves of what seemingly has all the
characteristics of a third world operation.

Perhaps Nalcor has contracted out health and safety because
first world practices are beyond its scope to enforce. Will Nalcor clarify its
role in approving this operation or is this another one of those “commercially
sensitive” matters, too?
Another source at the Muskrat Falls site wrote the Uncle
Gnarley Blog to state that, just recently, “another contract… was shut down (this
time by Nalcor) because they weren’t vetted from a safety perspective.” 
The source stated that it, too, was a case where “the vetting
only took place once work STARTED, not beforehand.”
On Tuesday, VOCM reported that a worker at the Muskrat Falls
site was suspended pending an investigation into “irregular reporting”. The
broadcaster quoted Nalcor’s statement that “actions” have been taken to deal
with irregular reporting allegations.
 It sure seems Nalcor’s “safety
minute” needs a lot more time.

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. One of the most basic concepts of workplace health and safety is that PPE is a last line of defence. Work activities and practices should and MUST have as much of the potential risk and hazard mitigated as is possible. The term "engineered out" has been used sometimes to describe eliminating unsafe practices and improving with safer alternatives. Obviously, if this is a product used commercially, there are best practices associated with said use. Although unfamiliar with the product or processes it entails, I am confident there is no industry standard that states unventilated facilities are to be used when handling this product. Staff must be covered with dust or the procedures will likely not be effective.

    I think this shows, once again, how Nalcor is running the province, and thumbing their collective noses at legislation in place to protect Newfoundlanders, and in this case, workers from elsewhere. Upgrading the dustmasks used is NOT an appropriate response, and OSH likely would not allow such a meagre response on any other site. Whst the hell do we have for a government to continually allow this?

    DB is talking the talk about changing the legislation re Nalcor…but you can bet the shop he won't walk the walk.

  2. To the best of my knowledge fly ash is not pulverized coal but rather the fine ash collected in the baghouse of a scrubber from coal burning.
    Not only is it rich in silica but typically has many heavy metals that are harmful to health.

    The dangers to human health from fly ash are well known and in the first world workers are protected from exposure. Add abuse of workers OH&S to Nalcor's growing list of Banana Republic tactics.

  3. That's right we created a minister or a Frankenstein and we have no control over him, he control us, and yes thumbs his nose at government and their officials. We are governed socially and financially by nalcor, they have infintrialed every aspect of the province, controlled all boards etc. With their appointments. God what have we wroth. Government created, only government can destroy, before it is too late.

    • Robert, you made me smile, suggesting they would have me on this photo of the CBC EE story.
      And you in BC posted this 6 hrs before I saw it here on TV…… are always on the Ball.
      The background sign reads " The New Energy Efficiency Program is Here. This was actually rolled out in the spring budget, I beleive under the name House Energy Efficiency Loan Program (HEELP) , which on this blog I suggested would eventually be the HEEEEEEEEEEEELP .
      It is for max of just one million this year and 1.5 million for the next 2 years, to fund loans to 10,000.00 at 4.7 percent interest ( some jurisdictions, NS, I think, they offer zero interest)
      So, get this ……..100 houses this year and 150 house the following 2 years.
      Nova Scotia was installing 20,000 per year by the year 2011.
      If each unit reduces the peak load by 1 kw, that means that this year it will reduce 0.1 MW on the grid in Nfld !
      At the same rate, NS in 2011 would reduce 20,000kw, or 20 MW from such units, so 200 times more! And saving customers a lot of energy.
      Now Ball said this was worthwhile because we should not waste ANY electricity. Now I calculate we can cut 600MW by efficiency measures, so a lot of waste going on, more than MF can deliver here.
      And would I dress like that? I crawl into the attic at times to check the energy monitors, and RH sensors and visual inspections of coil frosting……….
      A suit for me?…..Yes , for weddings and funerals, and then without the tie. Maybe a suit if they had a Real instead of a Fake Energy Efficiency Plan.
      Bob Wakeham calls Ball the Manniquin Man……….
      What a propaganda photo op.
      Shame , Shame Shame. But they have none.
      I repeat NL has the second worst customer Efficiency Plan in Canada.
      Nothing Changed.
      CBC seems ignorant of that , or just don't care…….poor journalism.

    • The Telegram story on this is titled `Energy Efficiency program launched in Newfoundland`
      1. The photo is engineer Wayne Upshall, showing a heatpump and insulation. He has grown a beard since he visited my attic HP setup this spring. Scallyways on the Take Charge ads are seen wearing a face mask……..hmmmmmm.
      2. Ball says upfront capital for hosue upgrades is a key component to help homeowners to mitigate higher power rates from MF
      3.It will be handled through Take Charge…..the power companies….and loans up to 10,000.00, paid back through saving on power bills (so not a cent of expense from goverment, and profit made at 4.7 percent interest charged)
      4. 4000 applications are expected.
      5. Now if 4000 applies and are granted, from 4 million budgeted over 3 years, this is only………1000.00 per house, not 10,000.00
      6. Now, as generally Nfld Power siphons off one third for administration, this leaves only 750.00 per house!
      7. Most minisplits HP run just over 4000.00 installed, so not many homeowners will get one for 750.00 HST included.
      8. the Photos and and write up puts emphasis on heatpumps but shows and mentions insulation also……so the math suggests that few will get heatpumps and will be steered to a few hundred dollars to pay for some insulation.
      9. What is new about this, I wonder,….to suggest a Launch of an energy efficiency program……..such programs for insulation has been going on for 25 years, insulation rebates, that we pay for from our bills. This is a loan at 4.7 percent…….worse than a rebate…….a step backwards, sort of.
      10. This is as transparent as MF itself, except a Ball, Liberal deception. Laughable if not so sad.
      11. But it is Halloween …….trick or treat…..and you can trick most of the people most of the time.
      Hey journalists……keep track of the value of these applications , how many granted and for what, and the average amount.
      12 . And there you have it folks ,Balls best boondoggle mitigation plan, that we have all been waiting for…….hot air form Ball and his buddies. We can get hot air space heating whether from baseboards, heatpumps or the Ball hot air plan.
      Baseboard COP is 1. HP is about 3. Balls hot air has a COP of 100 ( every watt in you get 100 out). Sure ,…… it defied the law of phyics, but is financially just as sound as MF……so business as usual, ……Ball Business. More voodoo economics, that ridicules the ratepayer.

      Hey, Ashley girl…… this is not your piece…….what happened to your scholarship that was to enable you to analyse these Business promos for the Telegram to the benefit of the consumer……….I`m waiting.
      Winston Adams

  4. Con on ball et al, buck up and give us some hard facts, like how you plan will help people reduce electricity consumed, and how many people or houses can take advantage of your plan. If you are right and the bloggers on this site are pushing us a lot of hog wash, I say lock them. YOU BOTH CAN'T BE RIGHT? As an ordinary Danny I am fed up to the teeth with baloney. What and who am I supposed to believe. You are Both miles apart. How about the honest, brave media, can they not sort this out and give us the truth, or are they both dummies and parrots at the same time. At this stage I have to side with the UG friends and blogger, simply they give facts and figures that make scenes, where as balls is just hot empty lies that we have listened for for years from politicians and nalcor world class experts. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. BEcause you balls and all is feeding me the average Joe, a pile of crap, and I am dam pissed off right up to the eyes. So come on average joes and Danny's like me speak up. Yup….worst than third world tin dictators in the banna republics. And shame, shame , shame, throw up for f….k sake every time you pass by a mirror.

    • There are some 180,000 residential units in Nfld.
      If such a 1 million loan plan a year,is used for heatpumps at 5000.00 per,this means 200 houses gets converted per year from such a plan.
      180,000 house divided by 200 per year means all houses will be converted after 900 years… don`t hold your breath for approval of an application………maybe you get approved after 300 years…..for a loan that you pay back with interest!
      Now most houses deteriorate and torn down after 75 years.
      This LAUNCH of an home energy efficency plan to mitigate high power rates…… it worthy of the hype given……….hardly.
      Perhaps the biggest Newfie Joke since the Launch of Muskrat sanction.
      MF …15 billion on the backs of the common Joe, this latest joke of 1 million per year,fully paid by homeowners at 4.7 interest rates, not a penny coming from government nor power companies or their shareholders to help the common Joe. And one third of your payments to pay Take Charge staff to administer it.
      Happy Halloween
      Winston Adams

  5. Are we to presume that the minds behind NL government's tardy carbon reduction program are reading the tealeaves?;

    I ask again, what is MUN administration doing to approach zero net energy buildings? Make the Muskrat surplus energy an opportunity to put major industries in Labrador, not on the Avalon. The carbon intensive transmission line is the real boondoggle, or was this Danny's vision decarbonization?

    • One would think that APENG and MUN would be leading the charge for highly efficient buildings, as serious engineering work needed there.
      We need to see more meaningful measure for these inefficient buildings, but want to keep the economic case for Muskrat, and use more power here.
      Indeed even James Feehan, and Tom Adams suggest energy conservation impedes the economic case for Muskrat………..why did more not speak more strongly on this before sanction?
      You may slow down but not stop the march to more efficiency….as Vardy knows. But we should be speeding up, not slowing down the efficiency march.
      Planning for uptake of electric cars would help, but lowers the fuel tax intake, unless fuel tax is increased to encourage the transition. And why was Inco build at Long Hr instead of Labrador?

  6. Muskrat Cost Recovery Equation:
    Annual cost recovery after commissioning= TWH used by NS at 5 cents per KWH + TWH used by NL residents and businesses at 17 cents per KWH + the remaining amount in taxes on NLers to make up the $700 millions required to pay for the big sucker, millstone around our necks, called the Muskrat Project. Happy Halloween folks!!

    • I can easily go off on a `thread`, I think they call it, to try and correct technical misinformation I see constantly on misguided efforts, to use effective energy conservation for homeowners here in Nfld, or use tricks to mislead.
      And proof by monitoring is a slow procedure needing at least 12 months or more for full year results.
      So, too far off the subject of Safety, yes …….so delete when ever I wander, triggered by events.

      What can I say on safety…….the engineers iron ring should be a constant reminder, but even that unnecessary. A safety minute …….no , safety all the time.
      Ed Martin preached safety as number one, but let issues of methylmercury and the instability be swept under the rug, and other safety mishaps,
      So this safety issue is business as usual.
      Winston Adams

  7. Would be interesting if OH&S that work on the muskrat would express their opinion, experience, etc. As well as provincial OH& Safety that sometimes get assigned to muskrat would express their work experience, anonymously of course. And compare and contrast with other projects they have worked on, out west maybe, local oil contrruction industry, or government projects. How about the concrete pour that went wrong. Or the tower collapse of a few months ago on the island. Not to highlight human tragedy, but any aspect of the operation and the competency of the overall managers of the project or contractors on site etc.

  8. The Nfld carbon tax plan…….
    The Telegram reported the plan is already drawn up, and is being put before the feds, and considers the offshore oil situation.
    Ball says Nfld intents to invest the proceeds from the tax in Nfld.
    What does INVEST mean…….
    A kickback to oil companies to offset the tax…..
    A MF levy reduction……….
    A rate mitigation reduction for homeowners……
    A robust investment into meaningful energy efficiency measures for homeowners……..
    An electric car rebate program to reduce carbon emissions further……
    Some or now of the above…….
    If this plan is already known…….why has it not been leaked or disclosed to the public for input……why the secrecy…..
    And what does INVEST mean as used by the Premier…….who is his investment advisers………..Wade Locke …….James Feehan,……Patey Daley……..remember, MF was an INVESTMENT that offered lots of gravy but is a boondoggle.
    We need to know which way we are headed with a carbon tax.
    I would do this: Feed it all back to homeowners , the aim to reduce fuel consumption, and increase use of MF power (if it ever comes on line). Likely if will go into general revenue to counter the mounting provincial and Nalcor debt.

    • Finally a post from anon "investor" that addresses issues and moves beyond self stroking for your "vision". Congratulations.

      Yes what exactly does Ball plan to invest in? Given the disaster financially of MF, anything less than offsetting ratepayer costs is unacceptable. Putting it into general revenue to facilitate business as usual is not acceptable. More subsidies to big oil and more "super royalty" scams can't be allowed to reduce current deficits at the expense of taxpayers.

    • A Bruno approval is good news, but I wonder if I Self Stroke more than you!
      I recall some months back a federal team visited here on carbon tax issues, reported on by Ashley Fitzpatrick of the Telegram, and Neither Ball of high level govn officials attended, but CEO of Fortis was there and commented that Nfld should go slow on carbon tax implementation.
      Then Ball met with Fortis CEO on a so called Energy Summit, that was vague on information…… , who is running the shop………
      And Bruno, a portion of my investments are for renewables, a less profitable area, but important to our future……would you consider me an ethical investor……..
      This carbon tax issue and its use should be an important public issue……why allow politicians to frig it up and not benefit the public on well thought out ideas. What is their secret plan…….and why kept secret……Is Ches Crosbie soon to bring out his proposals for the carbon tax………not a word from him on this.

    • I am interested in ideas, not semantics, but a few things. If you are to be believed by your own account you are partly an ethical investor if you are not a pure troll. "Ethical investing" is like pregnancy, you can't be a bit ethical, you either are or are not.

    • I disagree, Bruno, as I think ethics is relative:
      Warren is referred to as the Oracle of Omaha…..his power company investments are to a higher standard than Fortis say……but few power companies are pure alternative.
      Per ton , trains get 450 miles per gallon of fuel, a car say 49 miles and a plane uses 8 times more per mile than a car. So how should one travel to be ethical? Even the train uses fuel and has emissions. One can become more ethical… you agree? Not just ethical or not……….that is to say one is perfect or not.
      Perhaps a better test is if one does what one says, example
      Ball says no electricity should be wasted……….
      Consultants might say waste is if it is cost effective to not waste. so conditional.
      Ethics might ignore cost altogether, and consider damage to the environment and health and say use only renewable energy
      An ethical investor would point out that even renewable has environmental impacts, but is least damaging, so move to that in a prudent fashion.
      So ethics, something like relatively…….., rather than absolutes.
      Another example , who was more ethical, Stalin, Hitler, Churchill or Roosevelt? Or did none have ethics?
      But your opinion may differ………and I try to be open minded.

    • Hardly credible! Relativistic ethics is an oxymoron that only a moron would buy. The example you use is classic. The oil and gas industry uses it to rationalize gas burning rather than coal.

      The ethical action, given the risks have been documented by Exon and others going back to the 1970's, would be to invest in clean tech like solar, wind and battery storage. Relativistic ethics is the fast lane to a literal hell on earth.

    • Bruno, as you indicate you may not believe in the existence of a soul, how can you believe in a literal hell……which you profess not to believe in.
      But that there are thousands of coal and others power plants that are built for 30 years or more, and 5-10 year to construct, and very dirty, it is a gigantic move to renewables to even scale up to replace everything.
      Natural gas is cleaner than coal and oil and can come on quickly, but only an improvement, not a solution.
      To move rapidly , as you suggest ,it is essential to slow down and reverse climate change. But you cannot do it overnight, as absolute ethics might wish.
      Sure oil companies would want to delay the transition……and a price will be paid to delay……approaching a hell on earth (which I believe)
      But how soon to the necessary solution …..30 years, 15 years , 1 year? Tomorrow?
      Absolute ethics would want this transition by tomorrow. Relative ethics says as soon as technically possible, with no excuses. This must include all nations.
      But you must agree that instant transition is impossible, right?
      So relative ethics must prevail, as evidence based is well proven, and not the fossil fuel industry wishes of going slow. I would suggest the fossil fuel CEOs are low on the ethical relativity scale. You may be much higher.
      You assess my opinion as that of a moron………okay, but I still make about 15 percent per year on investments, and some are in renewables. A move in BC to stop Cite C may move me more into renewables, so, I climb the ethical ladder, you might agree?
      I think we are not that different, except I would not call you a moron, without more evidence.

  9. We must all keep an eye on the Ball.
    The upcoming NL carbon reduction policy must go well beyond the Tory-minded Manitoba/Sask plans.
    For instance, consider the RFP to regenerate Bull Arm, what if any money was put into this crown asset, to operate on renewable energy? Where is the wind/solar/geothermal power generation? What was the peak power load when the GBS project was active? Does the RFP require the proponent to bring a green plan in their hip pocket, or will the ratepayer be gouged again to provide "incentive"

    • No need to weep for BC Robert. This is a good analysis that tilts the table towards scrapping Site C.

      The question is will politicians do the right thing or fall for the lure of short term jobs that violates treaty rights and screws ratepayers.

      It would give impetus to the scrap Muskrat now movement.

    • I see that scraping the project suggest 28 percent lesser cost for the alternatives proposed.
      Alternatives :
      444 MW of wind
      Demand side management that included "energy efficiency" (wonder if the detail report breaks this down further,,,,, as other utilities show no growth when EE is included in forecasting)
      81 MW of geothermal
      Also mentions that battery storage is becoming commercially competitive
      So, Wind and DMS including EE was ignored here
      And aslo their demand forecasts were too high and elasticity for electricity too low.
      Ok ……..scuttle Muskrat
      But in BC they had many hundred who made submissions and comments for this review…………here we have the UG naysayers few.
      Too few engaged.