Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Pressure Mounting for Flooding of Muskrat Falls Reservoir: Nalcor CEO

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Pressure Mounting for Flooding of Muskrat Falls Reservoir: Nalcor CEO

Article excerpt

CEO pushes for quick flooding in Labrador

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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Unless flooding of a reservoir near the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project is completed within the next three weeks, the construction site could be inundated with water from the Churchill River as winter sets in and temperatures plunge, the man in charge of the Labrador megaproject says.

Stan Marshall, CEO of Nalcor Energy, said Tuesday the Crown corporation is keen to start flooding this weekend, but it is still waiting for provincial approval.

"It's snowing up there already," Marshall said in an interview. "We have to move soon ... Winter is upon us in Labrador."

Flooding was postponed last week when about 50 protesters descended on the site and demanded a meeting with Premier Dwight Ball, who promised a delay until after the marathon meeting that ended early Wednesday in St. John's.

The Labrador Innu have already given their approval for the flooding, but Marshall said the province is waiting to hear from the two other aboriginal groups involved: the Nunatsiavut Government and the NunatuKavut Community Council.

"If we don't do this, we risk losing a lot of the work that has been done," Marshall said. "I'm sure the insurers would cancel the policy if we didn't do that ... We are now really pressed for time."

Reached by email, the NunatuKavut council issued a brief statement saying it will submit comments to the province by the end of the week.

Nalcor's plan is to use water from the 25-metre-deep reservoir to warm super-cooled water flowing over Muskrat Falls, which will otherwise form a dam when temperatures plunge well bellow freezing. The dam would cause flooding in and around the construction site, Marshall said.

The project, which started in 2012, is now two years behind schedule and has gone $4 billion over budget to an estimated cost of $11.4 billion.

About 700 workers had to leave the site west of Happy Valley-Goose Bay after the protesters occupied a building on Oct. 22, and then moved into the actual construction zone.

They left the site last Wednesday after Ball agreed to set up an independent advisory committee, which will include members from the three aboriginal groups and representatives from the federal, provincial and municipal governments. …

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