NDP presses government on safety and stability of North Spur dam

Updated: Oct 3, 2019



For immediate release

June 26, 2019


NDP presses government on safety and stability of North Spur dam


Over the last week, the NDP Caucus has been grilling government on the North Spur, seeking answers about the status of essential stress-strain tests as well as documents signed by engineers attesting to its safety and stability.


In Question Period yesterday, NDP Leader Alison Coffin (MHA, St. John’s East-Quidi Vidi) noted that in a recent letter to the Minister of Natural Resources, international hydro expert James Gordon withdrew his public endorsement of the safety of the North Spur dam after learning, contrary to Nalcor’s assertion, that Hatch did not review the work of SNC Lavalin. In his letter, he also expressed his suspicion that stress-strain tests may not have been done given they have not yet been made public.


Coffin also noted that the independent review panel appointed by the Premier didn’t resolve questions about the North Spur: “Nalcor’s hand-picked North Spur Peer Review Panel did not consult with the community or experts concerned about SNC Lavalin’s methods and results. The Panel also said it didn’t perform any calculations of its own and explicitly disclaims any liability for the work [reviewed] in its report,” said Coffin.


“The Muskrat Falls Inquiry is uncovering more and more examples of Nalcor’s rogue behavior, interference, and overreach,” Coffin said. “How can the Minister continue to trust Nalcor’s claim that everything is fine with the North Spur?”


NDP House Leader James Dinn (MHA, St. John’s Centre) noted last week that the Concerned Citizens Coalition submitted an ATIPP to Nalcor last year asking for signed attestations from engineers confirming the safety and stability of the dam. Nalcor replied that they had no responsive records.


“Where are the safety sign-offs from the engineers?” Dinn asked the Minister.

Jordan Brown (MHA, Labrador West) said that the Minister, in defending the stability of the North Spur, consistently refers to Nalcor’s assurances that the dam meets Canadian dam safety standards.


“Yet experts claim the unique geological conditions of this particular dam require additional assessments using more modern calculations,” Brown said. “I ask the Minister, given that this is a matter of safety, why doesn’t she understand that an independent geotechnical review of the stability of the North Spur is critical?”


Brown also says that, above and beyond the threat to human life and property, a failure of the North Spur could result in the province going bankrupt, as the already ruinously expensive hydro project would be no more.


“Why does the Minister consistently refuse to see the seriousness of this situation, and commission an appropriate, independent safety review?” Brown said.


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For further information, contact Zaren Healey White, Director of Communications, NDP Caucus at 729-2137 (o), 693-9172 (c), or zarenhealeywhite@gov.nl.ca.

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