Muskrat Falls — a snap­shot in time

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - EDITORIAL - Pam Framp­ton

This week, I went back through our ar­chives to find out what was be­ing said about the Muskrat Falls project in 2013 by politi­cians, pro­po­nents and the pub­lic, as well as in the risk assess­ment re­port writ­ten by project prime con­sul­tant SNC-Lavalin in April 2013.

The ob­ser­va­tions speak for them­selves.

Telegram news story,

April 3, 2013:

Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of res­i­dents com­pletely or mostly sup­port the Muskrat Falls project. … “De­spite on­go­ing crit­i­cism of the Muskrat Falls project,” said Don Mills, chair­man and CEO of (Cor­po­rate Re­search As­so­ciates), “a clear ma­jor­ity of cit­i­zens in New­found­land and Labrador sup­port the hy­dro­elec­tric devel­op­ment project.”

Telegram news story by Ash­ley Fitz­patrick,

July 13, 2013:

“If SNC-Lavalin can­not be trusted (on the Muskrat Falls project), I don’t know who can be trusted,” said Nor­mand Bechard, gen­eral project man­ager for SNC-Lavalin on Muskrat Falls.

SNC-Lavalin’s re­port: “The risk team re­view­ers have se­ri­ous con­cerns in re­gards to the strat­egy to re­al­ize the Lower Churchill Project.”

Telegram news story by Ash­ley Fitz­patrick,

Oct. 11, 2013:

West White Rose is one more multi­bil­lion-dol­lar devel­op­ment in the prov­ince, ad­ding to the He­bron oil project and the Muskrat Falls hy­dro­elec­tric devel­op­ment. (Premier Kathy Dun­derdale) was asked if the pile-up might cause prob­lems with labour sup­ply and sub-con­trac­tor avail­abil­ity.

“There is so much go­ing on in the prov­ince at the mo­ment,” she said. “It’s al­ways top of mind with us. We’re work­ing within (a) re­al­is­tic en­ve­lope of what we can man­age, and no doubt there are chal­lenges, and we deal with that ev­ery day. But they’re good chal­lenges. It’s a good prob­lem to have.”

SNC-Lavalin’s re­port: “Man­power avail­abil­ity is a big con­cern in the Al­berta oil and gas in­dus­try. They have de­vel­oped, to at­tract labour from New­found­land, a fre­quent fly-in fly-out ro­ta­tion and a gen­er­ous salary and con­di­tions pack­age; this in a prov­ince with nor­mally low in­come taxes. We have also a com­pet­ing project in New­found­land; the He­bron project…

“The un­avail­abil­ity of qual­i­fied con­struc­tion man­power may lead to sched­ule de­lays and ex­tra labour costs, as well as im­pact­ing on the qual­ity of the works, in­creased safety risks, etc.…

“The man­power needed to ful­fil the work should be in the neigh­bour­hood of 2,500 peo­ple and the project is presently work­ing with 1,500. This con­cern has to be re­viewed and given proper con­sid­er­a­tion at once.”

SNC-Lavalin’s re­port: “Some groups in the N.L. pop­u­la­tion could re­act against the project, in­creas­ing its po­lit­i­cal sen­si­tiv­ity, protests or demon­stra­tion.… Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of First Na­tions could block con­struc­tion sites to ap­ply pres­sure on (the Lower Churchill project) and to pro­mote their agen­das, lead­ing to sched­ule de­lay, ex­tra costs and rep­u­ta­tional dam­age.”

Telegram edi­to­rial

Aug. 13, 2013:

Right now, the Muskrat Falls project is fac­ing le­gal chal­lenges on at least three fronts. Two abo­rig­i­nal groups in Labrador — the Nu­natsi­avut gov­ern­ment and the Nu­natukavut Com­mu­nity Coun­cil — are chal­leng­ing the project over an al­leged lack of con­sul­ta­tion. And Hy­dro-Québec has asked for le­gal clar­ity of its con­trac­tual rights con­cern­ing Churchill Falls, which may af­fect the fea­si­bil­ity of Muskrat Falls.

Telegram news story,

Nov. 29, 2013:

“The lines have been drawn. But there is one line that we are de­ter­mined to stop — and that is the Labrador-Is­land trans­mis­sion line!” Todd Rus­sell, pres­i­dent, Nu­natuKavut Com­mu­nity Coun­cil.

SNC-Lavalin’s re­port:

“As lim­ited geotechi­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tions have been per­formed on the North Spur, ad­verse con­di­tions could be dis­cov­ered dur­ing con­struc­tion, lead­ing to ma­jor re­work, cost over­runs and de­lays.”

Let­ter to the edi­tor, Cabot Martin, July 13, 2013:

“In­deed, Nal­cor failed to do the most ba­sic North Spur geotech­ni­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tions prior to project sanc­tion last De­cem­ber, and have been spend­ing away in vi­o­la­tion of the most ba­sic rule of project man­age­ment — do your home­work be­fore turn­ing on the money tap.”

Let­ter to the edi­tor, John Janes, June 25, 2013: “If the gov­ern­ment has made an anal­y­sis of the risk this project poses to the pro­vin­cial econ­omy, it’s about time it was made pub­lic.”

Let­ter to the edi­tor, Premier Kathy Dun­derdale Nov. 9, 2013:

“Never be­fore in the his­tory of this prov­ince has a project un­der­gone such scru­tiny, and never be­fore has such de­tailed in­for­ma­tion been pub­licly avail­able — a tes­ta­ment to the project’s open­ness and trans­parency.”

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