Guest Post by David Vardy

The North Spur Remains Unresolved and
Muskrat Falls is the only hydroelectric project in the world which
relies on a large natural dam, underlain by sensitive glacial clays, and
raising major concerns for local communities. Experts from the Geological
Survey of Canada documented the extensive presence of glacial marine clays in
the Lower Churchill in their testimony to the joint federal-provincial
environmental panel.

The Labrador Land Protectors presented a
petition to government on May 9, 2017 calling for the appointment of an
independent expert panel on the North Spur.  It was signed by more than
1000 people. There has been no response. Since that time the urgency of the
panel has been raised. It has been raised by new research conducted in Sweden
as well as by revelations flowing from the SNC risk assessment report released
by the Premier.

The recently disclosed and disturbing SNC Lavalin risk assessment report
of April 2013, released by the Premier on June 23, 2017, refers to the need for
further geo-scientific information to guide remedial measures and assess
overall safety and stability. SNC Lavalin rated the risk as “very high.”
Whether Nalcor has successfully remediated these risks over the period from
April 2013 to the present is as yet unknown. It will take the work of an
independent expert panel to measure whether risks have been reduced or indeed
whether they can be mitigated or eliminated.
On January 16, 2017 Ron Penney and I wrote the
Chair of the Muskrat Falls Oversight Committee to call for urgent action on the
North Spur. We had given up on Nalcor, having made strong representations in
person and in writing for appointment of an independent review panel without
success. Our letter was supported by a list of 20 major concerns with the
safety of the North Spur, compiled by Jim Gordon along with Maurice Adams and
other colleagues.
We approached the Oversight Committee out of
desperation in our efforts to convince Nalcor that they should embrace our call
for an independent review. On July 17, 2017, more than six months later, we
received a response from Nalcor to the 20 questions, having been informed by
the Oversight Committee that they had referred our concerns to Nalcor and asked
them to respond. So much for independent oversight by the Oversight Committee,
which deferred to Nalcor rather than dealing with our questions independently!
A copy of our letter to the Chair of the Oversight
Committee is attached as Annex A (found at the end of this Post). 

Annex B contains Jim Gordon’s
original list of issues
. A brief list of the issues follows and the
reader can look to Annex B for the full statement of the issue, Nalcor’s
response and replies compiled by Jim Gordon.
1.    This
is the first use of a “natural dam” containing quick clay in a hydro facility
and this concern remains valid, notwithstanding Nalcor’s arguments to the
2.   The
safety criteria applied to a natural dam should be higher than those which
apply to an engineered, constructed structure. There has to be a difference in
the safety factor in natural dams, formed with a heterogeneous mixture of sand,
silt and clay, as opposed to a constructed dam with homogeneous sections of
carefully placed and compacted gravel, sand, and clay.
3. Canadian
Dam Association Guidelines are simply guidelines which apply mainly to the
operation of dams rather than to their construction. They apply primarily to
constructed dams rather than natural dams.
4. Unlike
a constructed dam, the strata of the North Spur are all sloping slightly
5.  The
more modern methodology used by Dr. Stig Bernander is more appropriate in
assessing stability of the remediated North Spur than the limit equilibrium
analysis which has been employed by Nalcor. Robin Dury has applied Bernander’s
methodology and concluded that the North Spur is unsafe. These conclusions
should prompt government to commission an independent geo-technical review
6. Dr.
Bernander has advised that Nalcor’s use of cut-off walls to remediate the North
Spur may have a detrimental effect on its stability and needs to be
7.  The
upstream slope is too steep and requires further investigation.
8.  Small
landslides encountered upstream during construction should be recognized in
calculating the stability of the North Spur. Such recognition should result in
flatter slopes.
9.  There
is a deep hole downstream of the North Spur and its west slope is very steep.
It should be investigated further by an independent expert panel.
10.  The
upstream slope below the low-drawdown reservoir level is too steep and reduces
the safety factor. This requires independent assessment.
11. It
is essential that there is no connection between the lower aquifer and the
upstream reservoir. Further testing is needed to verify that water cannot flow
from the reservoir into the aquifer.
12.  A
drill casing dropped under its own weight through very soft clay in several
holes. This is very troubling. Does the dropping of a drill casing indicate the
need for more testing, in the areas where the dropping occurred?
13.  Geotechnical
investigations need to be verified and retested using Dr. Bernander’s
methodology. In addition additional testing is needed because linear
relationships are not applicable at higher stress levels.
14.  There
is an anomaly in the relationship between tested shear strength and the
liquidity index, as discovered by Maurice Adams. The relationship is well
outside the normal range, indicating that one or the other is incorrect, but
not both.
15. Engineering
design work included remediation of the deep downstream hole, including a
downstream berm extending out into the water and infilling of the deep
downstream hole. Is there a need for such a berm  and/or flattening the
slope of the Spur as it extends to the bottom of the hole? Further study of the
stability of the hole and the effect of erosion on the downstream shoreline of
the Spur is required.
16. The
new hydrogeological model Nalcor has used to examine the impact of impounding
the dam on the water table needs further testing to ensure the North Spur is
17.  Quick
clay has been found at two locations on the downstream slope but the
geographical extent has yet to be determined. Further testing and additional
boreholes will be needed.
18.  Despite
earlier reports that independent reviews have been conducted it is unclear if
any such independent review has been undertaken by experts or consulting
engineers who have not had prior involvement in the Muskrat Falls project.
Review of the geotechnical design is still required and should be undertaken by
a panel of independent experts and not by an engineering consulting firm.
19.  The
Independent Engineers appointed by the Federal government have not been
mandated to conduct an independent review of the research into the stability of
the North Spur.
20. Is
there risk that the insurer of the North Spur will deny payment on any claim
arising from failure of the dam, since this was a known and acceptable risk
undertaken by Nalcor?
Robin Dury, in his recent Master’s Thesis at the Lulea University of
Technology, has applied the more modern dynamic modelling that Dr. Bernander
considers necessary to evaluate the North Spur. He concludes that the rise in
the water level from 17 m to 39 m may trigger a landslide and that the “North
Spur does not form a safe and reliable part of the impoundment wall.” This
confirms Dr. Bernander’s conclusion that further study, including field
investigations, are needed to ensure that the Muskrat Falls project can rely
upon the safety and stability of the North Spur. The critical load bearing
capacity of the natural dam will not be able to stand up to the pressure, which
could exceed twice the capacity, which means the North Spur could fail when the
reservoir is filled, based on Dury’s research.
It is essential that the engineering design be
reviewed by a panel of geo-technical experts as proposed by Grand Riverkeepers
of Labrador and Labrador Land Protectors who presented a petition signed by
over 1000 people to the government of NL on May 9, 2017 to which no reply has
yet been forthcoming.
David Vardy 
Annex A
Letter to the Chair of the Muskrat Falls Oversight
Committee January 16, 2017
Bernard Coffey
Chair, Muskrat Falls Oversight Committee and Clerk
of the Executive Council
Executive Council Office
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
Dear Sir:
We are writing to you in your capacity as Chair of
the Oversight Committee to request that you consider the attached list of
issues relating to the North Spur, compiled by retired engineer Jim Gordon, in
collaboration with the undersigned and with other colleagues.
The North Spur is a hill 1,000m long which
comprises part of the natural dam at Muskrat Falls, a dam which is both an
advantage of the site, as well as its Achilles Heel. When the Muskrat reservoir
is filled, this hill will form a natural dam containing the reservoir. The hill
consists of two layers of sand, and two layers of quick clay, sloping downstream,
on a deep foundation of quick clay, extending down to far below tidewater.
Quick clay is similar to quicksand. It liquefies when disturbed or when it
becomes saturated with water. There are numerous quick clay slides on the North
shore upstream and downstream of Muskrat, including three large slides on the
downstream slope of the North Spur.
NALCOR intends to increase these factors by
flattening the slopes, adding a downstream berm, adding pump wells, placing an
upstream impervious blanket to close off the upper sand layer, and building a
cut-off wall filled with an impervious material to close off the lower sand
layer. This means that the two layers of quick clay will remain within the body
of the dam. To our knowledge, quick clay has never before been used to form
part of a dam structure, nor has a dam been built on a quick clay foundation.
If the North Spur dam fails, there is a risk of
loss of life in Goose Bay and Happy Valley. If the North Spur fails, the
Muskrat Hydro facility would be left high and dry, and become a stranded asset,
with a repair cost well over several billions. Power would be interrupted for
several years. Since the design of the North Spur dam is without precedent, it
is imperative to have the design reviewed by an independent panel of experts –
a Review Board, to provide added assurance that the design is safe.
There has been no public forum for reviewing the North Spur and to test
the research and remedial measures advanced by Nalcor’s geo-technical experts.
The engineering design work had not been completed when the joint panel
undertook its review so the panel could not test the effectiveness of the
remedial measures that have been taken since the panel’s report of August 2011.
When public health and safety are at issue such critical independent
assessment must be in public view, through a fully transparent process and
conducted by a panel of geo-technical experts. It must be fully independent of
the proponents and its engineering consultants. The “precautionary principle”
requires that when a project imposes a potential risk to the public and the
environment, and there is no demonstrated scientific consensus to refute such
risk, then the proponent must provide evidence that the project will not be
harmful. This applies in particular where extensive scientific knowledge on the
matter is lacking. There is a social responsibility to protect the public from
exposure to harm. The exercise of the principle calls for further scientific
research and inquiry to provide sound evidence that no harm will result.
I am sure you share our concern that every measure possible must be
taken to reduce risk, following the precautionary principle, even if it leads
to an excess of caution over incaution by the project proponent. Not only is a
huge financial investment at stake but, more importantly, failure of the dam
has the potential to place people and communities at risk, through
life-threatening unpredictable events! Better to err on the side of safety,
when lives are in the balance!
We have been told that Nalcor has mitigated all the risks and that we
should trust Nalcor to do the right thing.  Is there any basis on which
the public can have trust that Nalcor has left no stone unturned in its quest
to maximize public safety and to minimize the risk of a devastating dam failure
or earth slide? Sadly we do not think there is!
We are all familiar with the egregious cost overruns which have
increased estimated project cost from $6.2 billion in 2011 to $11.7 billion in
2017. We are all familiar with the delay for full power from 2017 to the second
quarter of 2020.
We are all familiar with egregious lapses in quality control on this
project, including the leaking coffer dam, the “popped” transmission strand and
the collapsing concrete cribbing. These lapses, and others, make it clear that
quality control has been weak and, furthermore, that Nalcor is not capable of
being its own project manager.
The performance of Nalcor is far from exemplary and provides no basis
for trust that everything has been executed in accordance with the highest
quality standards. It is not clear to us that the new CEO has instigated a
“root and branch” transformation which will make Nalcor more open, transparent
and accountable. From the outside there is little evidence of structural
change, other than the separation of generation from transmission, and little
change in senior personnel. In our opinion major changes in structure and
senior personnel are essential. We are disappointed that the new CEO has chosen
not to initiate an independent review of the design plan for remediation. We
believe government must undertake such an independent review and that it should
be expedited.
The undersigned wrote to your predecessor, Julia
Mullaly, and to the Deputy Minister of Environment and Conservation, Jamie
Chippett, on November 22, 2014, providing a copy of the PowerPoint presentation
made by Dr. Stig Bernander at the LSPU Hall on October 30, 2014.
In our covering letter we made the following
If Dr. Bernander is correct and the
right engineering research and associated mitigation measures are not
undertaken, assuming that mitigation is even possible, the risks of a
catastrophic failure of the North Spur, which include the loss of the project and
downstream flooding, are significant.
The Joint Environmental Panel concluded
that the loss of the Muskrat Falls dam would result in the
“inundation” of Mud Lake and the lower part of Happy Valley Goose
Bay, with only two hours of notice, causing immense property damage. Two hours’
notice would not provide sufficient time to evacuate all those who would be in
the path of a wall of water and there would likely be loss of life.
If we were in your position we would
want to know that we took all necessary measures to ensure that the risks of
such an eventuality are reduced to the extent possible and urge you both to
exercise your responsibilities by getting the best independent advice possible.

The attached list provides a compelling case for the appointment of such
a review panel independent of Nalcor. It delineates the risks which remain
outstanding and complements the work done by Dr. Stig Bernander, whose most
recent research has been presented to the Public Utilities Board and can be
viewed at .
Jim Gordon concludes as follows: It
is essential that the dam design be reviewed by a panel of geotechnical
experts. It is not too late to undertake such a review, since any changes
resulting from the review can still be built. If there are no changes required,
then there is the added assurance that the dam is safe.

An independent review of the geo-technical research and remediation for
the North Spur should be embraced openly as a prudent course of action. This
review should be initiated by government, given Nalcor’s defensive posture and
its failure to take action on its own.
The undersigned would be pleased to meet with you to discuss this
matter. We also recommend that you invite Jim Gordon to meet with your
committee to explore his concerns, along with options to deal with this major

You are now the most senior official in the
government. Because of our own personal experience we know what an immense
responsibility that is. You have both the opportunity and the responsibility to
recommend that government take the prudent steps we suggest. We look forward to
your response.
David Vardy and Ron Penney
Annex B
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. David this is an exhaustive and terrifying review of the north spur instability and inadequate engineering to date. Again thanks for your analysis and warning of the risks.

    The problem remains however that Nalcor denies the Bernander and Drury analysis and choose to remain in their alternate reality, unwilling to engage in debate or the review of outside expertise. You also know they have secrecy and an open chequebook enshrined in legislation and regulatory protection has been short circuited. How this was allowed to occur in a democracy is an indictment of the political system, the media and the civil service. Good analysis but passive acceptance of the dysfunction is not an option when lives and the asset are at risk from the spur instability.

    A two year review by a single commissioner, without the requirement for a forensic audit and quick stop or go determination is just more political obfuscation. Ball's foot dragging on even passing legislation looking into contractor payment, he may get to it in the spring session, gives no hope his government will act to review Nalcor's inadequate (and secret) engineering.

    Your information session at MUN is welcomed. I hope you can step outside your comfort zone and supported by Jim Learning who has learned this lesson, you can facilitate political ACTION NOW to address the spur reliability, Nalcor secrecy and the impotence of the provincial government.

    it has been my experience that leadership falls often to persons who least desire it or are unlikely revolutionaries. Unfortunately speaking truth to power has become a revolutionary act in NL.

    Please, please facilitate firm DEMANDS and ACTION to push a reticent, some say complicitous government, into open, transparent and dare I say it democratic action.

    • One call to action I would strongly support at the MUN event, is that the dissenters realize that any possibility of getting the Authorities to open up the Inquiry is very slim. Carry on the good work by conducting our own Shadow Inquiry. Organize, and within the limits of the Law, pursue all available actions to open the files, subpoena witnesses, show the facts, inform the public.

      Go for it! And the best of luck with "Truth to Power"

    • I have to disagree Robert. "within the limits of the Law" is the rub. One can't open the files etc. with the stranglehold Nalcor holds on information.

      Forceful action by the concerned demanding the inquiry be broadened, the timeline reduced, an audit conducted in 6 months and the law protecting Nalcor secrecy be rescinded NOW, is the only hope.

      The government must be forced to act.

    • Bruno, a change in government is not in the cards. Read the polls. Organized dissent needs to be "Strategic". I can only suggest civil disobedience in the form of a Shadow Inquiry. There are many smart minds in the NL community who are capable in making it happen.
      Beating on the current ruling class is not working. 1933 mini rebellion is not in the blood and guts of today's complacent Public and Bureaucracy.

    • I can't accept the poor and old must go hungry in the dark while the perpetrators of this feudal destruction of the treasury and any semblance of democracy go unchallenged.

      As others have pointed out a broader discussion of the political dysfunction is needed. Now bold action to stop the madness is the only acceptable response knowing what we now know and as arrogant and out of control Nalcor is.

    • Robert….hope you continue to give your valued opinion on this blog. Granted , so long, and little if any improvement or changes, but there is not much engineering opinion on this blog, as MF is such a engineering failure, and may prove to be tragic if the North Spur fails.
      A few have kept the issues alive. You especially see the value of energy conservation and efficiency (never part of the energy solution here), and your links have aided me as to what is happening elsewhere.
      We need you to stay engaged……..a Shadow Inquiry seems better that the present Inquiry. I often have thought of no more comments…..but not reached that point yet. Reconsider. I have always thought that the high power costs that are coming would be the the only thing to engage the public. Meanwhile this blog has exposed much incompetence.

  2. The sociopaths who rule us don't care about reasoned analysis nor feel remorse for their evil deeds. That act purely in their self interests. They aren't downstream of the dam, nor do they care about the billions of debt and trail of destruction they will leave behind. They will be retired some place warm, probably without an extradition treaty and enjoying their millions or billions while reflecting on how great they are.

    • The sociopath's. HMMMm!!! I think we need to examine your analysis in more depth since it seems that the majority of our leaders in a democratic society fit that description. Ever notice that when Danny Williams was premier the term "Danny" was always in the news every time there was an announcement culminating with the Muskrat Falls announcement? That sure is the signs of a sociopath?

    • I was once shocked to read a piece whose title asked :was Jesus a sociopath?
      I read the piece and other info on this subject. As I recall there are about 10 or a dozen characteristics that define a sociopath. Leadership is one of them. Lack of empathy or compassion is another. Some have all of the essential characteristics, some half, some a few. So, Jesus had leadership characteristics, but also compassion and empathy. Many in politics and business have many of the essential traits, and rise to the top of their chosen field.
      Jesus lacked the negative traits that define a sociopath…….. a relief indeed.
      Is Danny being called 'Danny" sufficient to be excluded? Hardly. This is the in-depth analysis similar to the assumptions of MF being least cost. Surely some greater analysis of DW is warranted before giving the label of sociopath………
      Joe Stalin was called Joe…..Roosevelt called him Uncle Joe.
      Perhaps someone could list the various traits?

    • Psychology today has a good article on the differences between sociopaths and psychopaths.

      The civil service in Newfoundland is a total mess. The kind of professionalism that you see in David Vardy is extinct. Highly qualified people get arbitrarily screened out of jobs and even when the public service commission recommends a candidate the deputy minister can simply ignore it and pick someone else. I just heard of a case of this at Natural Resources for a job in the alternative energy division. I have heard far too many stories of insane hirings to see the public service commission as anything other than a failure. Many people in positions of power have family or political connections that got them their jobs. The end result is that the management layer (DM, ADM, Directors and Managers) work "at the pleasure of the minister" and spend the time trying to please the minister and climb the ranks to a great pension, rather than looking downward and actually trying to run a service for the public good.

      If you were to fire all the deputy ministers, assistant deputy ministers, directors and managers and held fair, public job competitions with the goal of hiring the best person for the job, opened it up to all of Canada and guaranteed them some kind of minimum term so they couldn't be fired for no reason — very few of the existing management would be re-hired. You'd also need a lot less of them.

  3. Oh, the fur is starting to fly…….make no wonder my fellow Nfld engineer, now retired in BC, wants to bail out on comments here.
    I wonder if Robert read Telegrams's Brian Jones piece about Bruno? (Don't blame the media for Muskrat Falls mess.) Jones lot 3 M words in this catchy title: media, Muskrat , and mess. This is an art form see. He could have said miserable mess. Or mad , miserable mess, and got 5 M words. Or mad , miserable , muddy , miserable , murky, Muskrat mess even.
    Bruno blames the media for not properly informing the people of the pending MF mess……….calls Brain a A..hole……….oh my.
    Brian acknowledges he may be that, but for different reasons ( if Jones could clarify?)…….as he, the Telegram, Pam and Russell, have carried all angles of the story.
    Brain says Bruno is a belligerent uninformed person.
    Perhaps both of them would be MHA material, with mud slinging……ah , mud……we are up to our eyebrows in mud issues……..believe Ray Guy referred to that about Dunderdale before he passed.
    If only we could bring Guy back… least we could laugh a little .
    Of interest, Jones makes no mention of our Ashley, of the Telegram, of being critical of MF or Nalcor or Nfld Power, or DW or any politician of even Ed martin…..maybe she did and I missed it.
    To Bruno's defense………where is the Telegrams pieces on Efficiency NL? Pieces comparing Efficincy NS to Take Charge. But also, where is Bruno's commentary on this.
    Robert Holmes, and I have beat that drum almost alone on UG, while Vardy is well informed on such benefits, and most all angles of Muskrat.
    So, Jones ……….not "every angle" have you or the Telegram assessed. And to my one email to you, you made no reply!
    Winston Adams

    • Those quotes were from an email exchange after he published a story blaming residents for being gullible and easily led. My words stand despite being used without my permission.

      I responded directly to him today Winston. It was colourful!

    • I agree that Nflders are not well informed by the media……who are themselves not well informed.
      I believe someone wrote a book saying it was easier to train a engineer to become a journalist than to train a journalist to become an engineer. Maybe so, and so journalists cannot easily decipher the technical issues of power generation and transmission and dam building, AC vs DC , methylmercury etc….what you Bruno calls technobabble. Even engineers have trouble with some of this, but now the Inquiry will spend a fortune trying to expose this or cover it up further.
      You and Jones use colourful language……..others might say gutter language. But then DW uses "colourful" language in public, as does Trump.
      I guess the Uncle would suggest we use respectful language.
      And why would Jones need your permission to use your words ? Are they copyrighted?
      By the way, I am of the ripe age of 70 today, is this the date John Lennon died? But I plan to stick on 69 for a decade, as women do for say age 39. Happy birthday Winston. I should give gifts, rather than expect them…….is it the Arabs who use that custom?
      Need to buy my soul , to get past St Peter, see Bruno……and the price may be high, and the time short….who knows.
      I hope to live to see if the North Spur stands secure or fails?
      Think we should have a lottery on the failure water elevation and time of day. Really engage the public on this risk.

    • I just asked Jones a question, one email , on my favourite topic, but he did not acknowledge it…….much like Wade Locke.
      He has been anti Muskrat, but much less informed than you, in my opinion……..but then we all lack knowledge. Jones says the Telegram `covered every aspect`, and `carried all angles of the story`, and also `at the forefront of critical analysis“of Muskrat Falls. Therefore no need for an Inquiry or a forensic audit…….all aspects covered and in the telegram already! Jones says so.
      He cites the Uncle gnarley blog as a veritable 24 hour news site for all things Muskrat Falls. I see Maurice`s Vision 2041 in that light, as UG has had pieces on our health system, MUN, etc. UG has had excellent analysis to expose Muskrat folly, but also a wide range of comments, the only site that allows that, as even the telegram eliminated comments.
      `Danny`s Dunce`…….you do have journalistic qualities, especially for colourful language.
      I suggest you read Peckford posting on my birthday,Dec 8….UG links Peckford.
      I had posted one comment on his blog some months ago, critical that he claimed the Atlantic Accord of more benefit to Nfld that Confederation. To his credit, he posted my comment back then…..but here he post an article by another very pro oil, drill baby drill attitude, and sees no environmental concern whatsoever.
      Even the Rockafella Foundation, billions in assets from oil revenue, has divested of oil entirely, the family saying it was time to move on to cleaner renewable energy. But Peckford cannot move on. Maybe he was a one trick pony, and stalled or was addicted on visions of oil wealth. In summary, his piece is very one sided on information, so not well informed. I still like Peckfords passion, but seems misdirected. Feels his legacy is tied to oil, so much defend it, without limit.And what did Danny do with our oil wealth!

    • Harumph! My comment in response to your question disappeared Winston. That is too bad because the truth is an absolute defence but I am glad you read it before it became vapor.

      Congratulations on your birthday entering your eighth decade.

    • Winston
      I have to agree with you on your assessment of Brian peckford and his mind set on oil development. Let’s set aside the environmental costs of oil for a second (even though they are real and probably the biggest threat to humanity right now) and concentrate on how the offshore was developed right here. First I believe there are some 2.8 Billion Barrels of proven oil reserves on the grand Banks off Newfoundland in the area known as the Jean de Arc Basin and in ice infested waters. This may well be the limit of the "developable" fields in our jurisdiction and let’s compare that to say Norway which has some 20 Billion Barrels in the Stavanger field alone but ice free year around. The NL fields are approximately 180 miles from the nearest port whereas the Norwegian fields are about 60 miles from Stavanger. The point in all this is to try and establish some scale in which the NL fields exist but I think you get my drift. Now let’s look at the development of NL fields. Brian Peckford insisted or rather demanded that Gravity Based Systems be used here in NL much the same as they did in Norway. This he said would create a home grown construction industry based around these concrete systems in which he envisioned a fabrication yard in every corner of the province and worldwide exporting port (i.e. Bull Arm) that would supply the world with these systems whether the world needed them or not. There was one slight problem with his vision-and that was the costs and the price of oil. To pay for these GBS megaprojects it was simply a matter of forcing the oil companies to build it or leave the province but like Muskrat Falls there was one bad assumption-the falling price of oil. It reached a point when Gulf Oil pulled out that the only way to rescue this Megaproject was for John Crosbie to go begging cap in hand for money ($1.8 Billion to be exact) to complete the project and so both the oil companies and the federal government became the owners of a concrete baby known as the Hibernia GBS. What is very little known is that a huge amount of royalties were given up for this method of development ( royalties that are sadly missed now) and when Danny Williams insisted on the same route for Hebron, we were again forced to give up future royalties in exchange for high priced construction jobs to pay for another megaproject failure. What does this have to do with Muskrat Falls you ask? Well Muskrat Falls is just another scheme in the madness that has gripped this province when it comes to development. From Joeys Chocolate factories and Upper Churchill to Frank Mores Fish plants and Brian Peckford’s Hibernia and Sprung greenhouses and now onto Danny William’s Hebron and Muskrat Falls we are now enslaved in a never ending cycle of developing the provinces economy with the highest priced jobs available which are mostly short term and over paid construction contracts and workers which serve little for sensible development. Unless we realize that the Megaproject method for development has been a failure and move on to more sustainable industries we will never get out of this cycle.

    • Yes, and the environmental cost which you set aside:
      Nfld's cod fishery closure in 1991?..most all was blamed on overfishing………..and little said of climate change. The cod and capelin has largely not recovered now in a quarter of a century.
      Ocean temperatures got colder here (a lot of cold Labrador current water came our way)……good for crab and shrimp, but the cod and capelin took off, and even stocks improved off NS where the water was warmer.
      We are now into what may be a record low rain fall, impacting already our electricity production on the island.
      This past spring we had a record freezing rain period, 62 percent longer than previous records.
      We are not exempt form climate change………right now very mild here and snow in Southern Texas,and as California is devastated by wild fires from years of drought……..and these fire in December, not seen before. The jet stream going wacky, prevailing westerlies tending to go north and south more……….this climate change is not just a slow gentle warming, as Peckford would imply. Nor are we immune from the effects or cause….with continued drill baby drill.
      Seems Peckford is disappointed that doomsday damage has not occurred swiftly enough.So not to worry.
      I see change and damage occurring too swiftly already, so maybe we are selective on what we want to see and ignore.
      Like Peckford ignores the deep poverty that existed pre-confederation. His parents must have been protected Young Alfie (Guy's term?) and shielded from the worse stories from THEM DAYS

    • Water temperature had nothing to do with the collapse of the N Atlantic ecosystem. It was spin by DFO to mask their own incompetence in the collapse.

      Draggers destroyed the bottom habitat if you wonder why there has been little recovery. Capelin, the cornerstone of the ecosystem should NEVER have been fished. After the cod were decimated by trawlers the effort continued on capelin. Cod and everything else suffers when the capelin are taken out of the system.

      Denial of the human impacts, by Canadians or under licence from our government, does not help understand why the recovery has not happened.

      When one destroys the habitat and removes the food supply that drives the system, the results are predictable. Apart from that the notion that a cold water cod complex crashed due to cold water is ridiculous.

    • The purpose of the rant at 16:19 was not to belittle or ignore the environmental costs but to debate the use of GBS systems for oil extraction on the Grand Banks. This province is littered with failed Mega Project Nightmares from the Railway in the 1890's (our first bankruptcy soon followed), the American bases, the Chocolate factories, the Upper Churchill (even though it has paid for itself, we received little in terms of other benefits), an oil refinery, Labrador Linerboard, hundreds of fish plants (more accurately named "Stamp Plants"), four gillnetting banker boats, Sprung greenhouses, the entire offshore in which exploration was supported by about $2.5 Billion in PIP grants from the federal government, Hibernia GBS(which we gave up $Billions in royalties for its construction), ferries to nowhere, roads across a city at $80,000 per Cm, the Rooms, refurbishing the old colonial building, Memorial University(a facility both physical and abstract that is way too big for the size of our economy), Hebron (again $Billions in royalties), Muskrat Falls (it has bankrupted us the second time) and soon to be Gull Island which will be developed to pay for Muskrat Falls but worse of all is the enormous civil service which has been built up through the years that is so ingrained in NL society we may never be able to reduce its size.

      There are some areas that the government should not be involved in and one is the development of industries. If private sector interests aren't developing it then it isn't feasible.

    • Your rant, anon is appropriate,(too bad you are anon) and I agree totally. A description of insanity when your do the same things or approaches over and over and do not learn from it.
      As to Bruno: he says that ocean temperatures had nothing to do with the cod and capelin collapse: as usual Bruno leaves no room for doubt of his expertise in saying the ocean temperatures had NOTHING to do with it.
      I read Rose book (COD)……and he assigns almost no impact to ocean temperature, to my surprise. DFO has said little on ocean changes and temperature, only lately citing temperature. Scientifc literature and papers have cited temperature as an important issue, but these get little public attention, as if design govn who promotes the fossil fuel industry, do not want to acknowledge the impact on oceans changes here.
      I have monitored inshore sea temperature for 10 years and see the close correlation of inshore temperature to capelin spawning on the beaches (50 F preferred)……..Bruno, don't tell me that ocean temperature has no impact. I do not say fishing methods were not also a big factor…..but you show little knowledge of the ocean temperature changes here, and likely impact.
      You consider yourself an expert in all areas, which is unfortunate, as we ALL are more ignorant than fully informed. Complete knowledge is vast and unattainable…..even for Bruno…..but that said,you do make many good point, but go too far very often. So, job to see that we might be pals!

    • Winston: I have stood on the decks of trawlers in the 1980's and watched bags of fish with upwards of 100,000 pounds of catch float away to oblivion when the cod end busted while hauling up over the stern ramp. When the northern cod fishery during January, February and March was in full pitch, this happened upwards of three to five times a day-in other words enough fish was lost just from this destructive practice to keep 5 inshore fish plants supplied for a 6 month period. Water temperature may have played small part but it was the destructive nature of otter trawling that destroyed the ground fishery. Fish stocks would have adjusted to any abnormal water temperatures but not to the war waged on both their numbers and ecology by bottom tarwlers.

    • You have cahnaged your opinion from the water temperature having no impact to ta small impact.
      Also you say fish would have adjusted to any abnormal water temperature.
      I disagree on both . I believe that water temperature and fishing practices went on concurrently, being both detrimental and that no significiant recovery in 25 years says something is really screwed up.
      Fish have a tolerance , like all species, for temperature ranges, and survive within tose limits. When outside the limits they die , or suffer or move to better conditions.
      To suggest they adjust to ANY abnormal temperatures , I suggest is wrong. That the genetics are from millions of years of adaptions, and species just do not adjust in a few years or a decade or a hundred years.
      Aligators are not swimming to Nfld, yet. Even tree and palnts and flowers have their range in latitude and elevation, but can relocate when condition there meet their preference.
      Being no expert, Perhaps some biologist could comment as to the ability of species to easily adapt. Humans probably has the widest range for adaptability, from the arctic to the tropics.

    • Perhaps the opinion of a Nfld fisherman may be considered : the letter in the Telegram" There's something wrong with cod", by John Gillet , an inshore fisherman of Twillingate.
      He says "after a quarter of a century waiting for the cod to be a commercial fishery again, something is not right. The inshore fishery is very limited -always has been: we have to wait for the cod to come inshore from the offshore, the temperature of the water has to be right, food like capelin has to appear. Fishing inshore for cod at the best of times was no more than 3 good months. There is something else going on in the ocean and it is time for DFO to focus more on science, foreign overfishing, predation of cod and cod larvae. The Canadian government needs to take control over the continental shelf for fish management. If these things don't happen, we may never be able to have a commercial cod fishery again."
      I doubt if this fisherman dismisses the ocean temperature as easily as you do. You spent a little time on offshore draggers……..fishermen spend a lifetime observing the effects of nature on the fish, including weather and ocean temperature. Fishermans opinions are usually ignored, secondary to so called experts.

    • Winston I have had a professional interest in fish stocks on the Banks. I was a fisheries campaigner in the early nineties warning of the imminent collapse, fighting with John Crosby, trying to encourage a community based fishery. I was thoroughly immersed in what was happening. Cod move to areas where the water temperature suits them. They have dealt with the changes in the North Atlantic for millennia.

      As you know I have been in the weeds with MF from early on and know the issues and the filthy politics well. Too well.

    • Winston John Gillet needs to look in the mirror to find the problem. Did you read the Globe and Mail piece about the quota and season getting longer surreptitiously. Will you ever accept that draggers destroy stocks, habitat and communities Winston? It is happening again now while Canada pretends there is not a commercial fishery.

      Read it and weep Winston.

    • Bruno, sometimes your opinions can be as stable as quick clay. First you say that fish adapt to abnormal water temperature, now you say cod move to areas where the water temperature suits them. There is a difference. You say cod have dealt with the changes in the North Atlantic for millennia. We know nothing about cod here prior to John Cabot in 1497, except that they likely moved when the glaciers moved in.
      DFO has operated a water monitoring station No 27 off st john's perhaps since the 1950s. The Logy Bay lab recorded no water temperatures until about 2009. I monitored sea temperature at one site for 10 years year round, as a hobby and of interest as to capelin spawning times, when they did not bother , with sea water being pumped to the lab for decades!. So research on the sea temperature is very little. They speculate conditions off St johns is representative for all the east coast including in the bays. And they have hundreds of staff here.
      Cobb and others want sustainable , high quality cod , that support communities. You and I agree on that , I think.
      When did I advocate for the draggers? Do you grow and use that organic weed?
      And what of John Gillet do you disagree with? Sometimes you baffle me, other times you seem right on. Thanks for the Globe and mail piece.
      That politicians might urge and allow a repeat of the past evil and wrong ways is your point, I think. And that perhaps too many fishermen may support the old ways. I hope not.
      I suspect that the large ice melt up north , via the Labrador current had the final kick at cod and capelin in 1992, and has produced low sea temperatures now for several decades. This is reversing. Last month I recorded temperatures 3F above normal in Conception Bay. This is helping cod, but cod is getting insufficient capelin, which remains at very low levels yet. Low temperatures likely affecting the food for capelin, so further down the chain. Fish science reports seems to suggest this……..but science is very fragmented , and often does not sufficiently look a the big picture……the leg bone is connected to the knee bone etc.
      With climate change I think we are in for a very bumpy ride on Land and Sea. I recommend reading up on Capt Bob Bartlett for an idea of the mass of ice that once existed up north, now vanished. Where did all the ice water go? Water with temperatures about 28F…….any friggin cod or caplin with a bit of sense would scatter for the deep, off the northern Grand Banks . So me thinks.

    • Winston when you are a hammer everything looks like a nail.
      When you measure water temperature everything looks like temp change.
      When you monitor defrost cycles and usage, mini splits are the solution for all.

      You need to pull back and look at the bigger picture to get a clear image.

      We know there was an interglacial cooling period between 1450 and1650 or so in the North Atlantic. Despite that when Cabot arrived the cod were so thick they impeded the vessel. They managed the cold it would appear. When the water is too cold they move to a warmer area. It is very simple and they are well adapted to their environment except for rapacious fishers like Gilette that wants to wack them down again before they recover.

    • In 1992 ……all waere shouting overfishing………no one was saying temperature change from climate change, not even Rose to any extent, yet fish were floating to the surave , dead from cold water in trinity Bay. Everythig did not look to me as temperature related , but an important factor.
      Never said minisplits was the solution for all. But a very important component, as is insulation.
      Defrost is what makes them inferior to ground source hps….so the impact of defrost is realtively uncertain, witout monitoring. Can you cite one study monitoring this for anywhere in North America?
      You admit you know nothing of minisplits or degrost cycles….it is technobabble to you………not so to anyone who considers this heating equipment for their house, especially contractors. Your frost free fridge works well because of its defrost cycle, but by different means.
      That cod or capelin more to more suitable warmer warmer is relarively simple for the fish…not so simple for the nshore fishermen, who cannot follow them . So the big picture is to stabilize the environment that fish be where they were for 500 years. ROLL BACK OIL PRODUCTION WORLDWIDE. This is the big picture, is it not?
      Gillet……maybe he is a dragger? The piece did not say that.
      Anyway , thanks for your kicks at the minisplit advocate. The Bard has written an appropriate piece. I really like it. What do you think…..rhymes are good. But it was not you that suggested the piece……you should have. Kind of like Mary had a little lamb……………

  4. To the topic :Sense of Urgency on the North Spur
    I was late in getting around to reading links to Dr B latest piece and also the 20 questions and replies on the North Spur by Gordon and M E Adams, rather technical issues.
    Startling to see the evasive nature of Nalcor's replies, but that might assure the general public. Evasive and misleading answers raise a red flag for me, and pushed me further into the Dr B, Cabot Martin, M Adams, Gordon, Vardy camp on that subject…..where I have been since Martins exposure of the issue.
    I feel it now reasonable to bet 4 to 1 odds on failure of the North Spur during flooding or within 1 year.
    Other engineers, nor Peng2 have made no further comment…….so Urgency being ignored as we move forward, and I guess PENG2 sticks with :build but do not flood proposition, which could make a little sense to avoid legalities of default.

    • 4 to 1 odds that the Spur may fail. Hmmmm.
      I wondered if I would wager a 1000 dollars. I wondered if I would wager 50,000.00. How confident was I ?
      And wager with who?
      Stan Marshall, as most know, is a very rich man, ex CEO of Fortis, and still a major shareholder,I guess, He could take such a wager, having pronounced the Spur will not fail. What of Nalcor engineers or consultants, who are also confident as Marshall is.
      If Marshall took the bet in full, there would be nothing left for the other pro Muskrat crowd, who want a piece of that, and are very self assured that there will be no failure of the Spur.
      Of course I would need the consent, I suppose , or discuss the wager with my close family, whether I should make such a wager.
      But I put the idea out there.
      Now, the experts , self assured, may not want to take advantage of my ignorance on quick clay….. I am not an expert…… that I easily waste my money. They may want to offer equal odds , or odds that the Spur will stand.
      Let see the response, if their confidence level is really what they profess? And will silence show they lack of confidence?
      Winston Adams

    • WA:

      I am still digesting Dr B's latest submission and his references—this is a significant piece of work and not easily absorbed. Interestingly enough, a posting I made 4-5 months ago cited several of Dr B's recent references but my posting was shot down as 'self-serving' at that time.

      However, I have seen nothing to date that contradicts my stance in that completion to avoid default is the best course of action and that the dataset/modelling employed by Nalcor is inadequate. Determine operational effects afterwards—this is the only responsible course of action–we must avoid completion penalties if at all possible.

      Also, I did see your posting regarding who Stan et al come look to blame after the fact if all don't go well–don't worry for PENG2, my seal is safely secured and so are my logs. And no, I wont take your hedge bet.


    • Thanks for your reply Peng2
      I see value in your opinion to avoid default…….you likely know the legalities better than I.
      Good you will not be a scapegoat if this thing fails
      That you not take my hegde bet……suggests you fear failure as I do. This is consistent with your past opinions.
      Will anyone at Nalcor take the bet, do you think?

  5. Due to the non-stop construction of the Nalcor Hydro Dam and without particularly liking what I have to say I must nevertheless do my best – as a matter of the greatest urgency – to shut down the boondoggle Nalcor Hydro dam Muskrat Falls project [Gull Island, Grand River Mishtashipu] Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada:

    1. The Labrador Land Protectors, Partners and Supporters need to realize that shutting down the Nalcor hydro dam juggernaut via the “Public Inquiry,” “expert advice” “technical data” route is now most likely a complete waste of time because the Inquiry’s terms of reference are deliberately too narrow excluding health, safety, environmental criteria and because one Labrador Land Protector “expert” justifying North Spur instability, ‘embedded contractors’ rates of pay, risk of flooding or whatever can easily be countered by another Government “expert” at every stage of proceedings.

    2. The Labrador Land Protectors, Partners and Supporters now need to fight on a battleground of their own choosing and not allow provincial and federal governments to shamefully continue developing their own.

    3. The governments are large bureaucracies which should now be frightened into changing course by the Labrador Land Protectors, Partners and Supporters.

    4. More rapid, direct action is now badly needed e.g. sadly, the more people who are sent to jail the better it is for our cause because government will not be able to deal with the huge public outcry and bad publicity.

    5. Making sure that enough members in both NL and Canadian Parliaments are actively fighting ‘tooth and nail’ for our cause.

    6. Vote for new candidates at next elections for both parliaments who will sincerely and actively support our cause by their deeds and words.

    7. Anything other than Direct Action and Parliamentary Legislation Pathways is going to be a complete waste of time because of the $billions including federal loan guarantees supporting the project.

    8. The Governments of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador will simply keep on trying to steamroller all opposition since they have the mentality of a balance sheet. They will be quite prepared to go right through with the boondoggle, ruin people’s lives, cause whole community displacements then turn round and unashamedly claim they were right it in the end because the financial returns generated by their hydro power scheme made it so worthwhile!

    9. Almost paradoxically, new Parliamentary Legislation by both Governments is quickly needed to stop the juggernaut dead in its tracks.

    10. Beatrice Hunter can have the same spiritual influence for Canada in the fight to #ShutMuskratDown as Mahatma Gandhi had for Indian political life. [Beatrice Hunter Video 24.12.17]

    11. C’mon Join The International Campaign against Nalcor Crown Corporation’s Boondoggle Hydro project, Muskrat Falls, Grand River Mishtashipu [lower Churchill] NL Canada [CA]