Astaldi sues U.S. firm over 2016 Muskrat Falls concrete collapse

A lawsuit is now alleging negligence linked to what project officials called a "very serious incident" in 2016.

Statement of claim does not specify amount of damages sought

This is a before and after comparison of the powerhouse site at the Muskrat Falls project two years ago. (CBC has agreed to withhold name of photographer)

Astaldi Canada is suing an American company over the collapse of a concrete formwork at the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric site in Labrador two years ago.

At the time, senior Nalcor Energy officials called it "a very, very serious incident."

One worker was sent to hospital, and others received first-aid treatment.

Now, the Canadian wing of Astaldi — the Italian firm contracted to build Muskrat Falls — is blaming Kansas-based Contractor's Engineer Inc. for the collapse of the wooden framework during a concrete pour at the powerhouse.

"The defendant was negligent in providing such work which resulted in the aforementioned collapse of the wooden framework," Astaldi alleged in a statement of claim filed at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court May 28.

Astaldi filed the lawsuit at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John's last month. (CBC)

Astaldi is accusing the Kansas company of breach of contract, negligence, and breach of its duty of care.

It is seeking an array of damages, although no dollar amount is specified.

None of the claims have been tested in court.

Contractor's Engineer Inc. has yet to file a statement of defence.

Neither company returned messages seeking comment Thursday afternoon.

1st such failure, U.S. firm said in 2016

A month after the 2016 incident, the owner of Contractor's Engineer Inc. told CBC News the collapse of the concrete formwork was the first such failure in the company's long history.

"It's a situation that's not good for anybody — me, the contractor, the owner — it's not good all the way around," Dave Kramer said.

A report commissioned by Nalcor Energy found that at least one of the following things happened:

  • The shoring system was not designed properly;
  • Wood integrity of the formwork was compromised;
  • The shoring system was not installed correctly;
  • The shoring system fabrication was inadequate.

That report, issued a year after the incident, also indicated a combination of those factors could have led to the collapse.

Troubled megaproject now 90% complete

The Muskrat Falls megaproject is years behind schedule and billions over budget.

But in April, Nalcor Energy CEO Stan Marshall said it had "turned a corner" and was 90 per cent done.

The total Muskrat Falls price tag is now projected to come in at $12.7 billion, including interest and other costs.

The province has called a public inquiry to examine what led to those spiralling costs.

Read more articles on CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Terry Roberts