Nfld. & Labrador

Cartwright, Nalcor butt heads over transformer delivery

Nalcor is preparing to ship large pieces of equipment through the Cartwright port, but the town's mayor says his town should be compensated for the impacts.

Mayor Dwight Lethbridge worries 200-tonne transformers will damage town roads

Seven transformers will be shipped to Cartwright and then trucked to the Muskrat Falls work site. (Twitter)

The mayor of Cartwright says his town should be compensated for the role it will play in the Muskrat Falls project as Nalcor finalizes plans to ship seven 200-tonne transformers to the work site by way of the port in that community.

Mayor Dwight Lethbridge is worried the town's roads and pipes won't be able to handle such a heavy load and said the town can't afford to pay for repairs.

"We have aging sewer infrastructure that are in the roads that they want to use," Lethbridge said.

"[I'm] worried that we'll be left with more damage then we had to begin with and things are already in a pretty sad state."

Later this fall, barges carrying transformers will dock in Cartwright. Then, they'll be individually trucked to the work site. The whole process will happen very slowly, and mayor Dwight Lethbridge is worried about how it'll effect the town.

The transformers will be shipped on two barges. The first arrives later this month.

Each transformer will be loaded onto a 16-axle transport truck, which will deliver them to the Muskrat Falls work site.

The trucks will move slowly and deliver one transformer at a time — it'll take two hours to drive out of town and nine or 10 days on the Trans-Labrador Highway.

The transformers will be shipped from Bay Bulls to Cartwright on two barges, then be trucked to the Muskrat Falls work site near Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

The entire process will take upwards of two months, but Nalcor said its contractors are working with the town to minimize impact.

"There has been extensive dialogue with the community, with the leaders in the community, to explain how the work is done," said Gilbert Bennett, an executive vice president at Nalcor.

"All the infrastructure has had an inspection from one end of the Trans-Labrador Highway to the other."

Mayor wants impacts-benefits agreement

Bennett said the contractor is responsible for any damage to roads or other infrastructure, but Lethbridge says that's not good enough.

He wants Nalcor to pitch in $2 million towards Cartwright's sewer maintenance fund and guarantee the town's power rates will not increase after Muskrat Falls comes online.

"We're talking fractions of a per cent of [the Lower Churchill] budget, to do something for a community that's a huge stepping stone to the project as a whole and I don't think that's too much to ask."

Nalcor VP Gilbert Bennett says contractors are working with the town to minimize impact. (CBC)

Contributing directly to a municipal budget is not part of Nalcor's mandate, according to Bennett.

"Those types of requests are best addressed by the province," he said, "those are decisions that they will take as opposed to us."

The transformers are in Bay Bulls with the first barge expected in Cartwright in the "latter part of October" Bennett said.

He said Nalcor and its contractors will meet with the town in between shipments to see whether there are any improvements to be made the second time around.


Bailey White

CBC News

Bailey White is the producer of the St. John's Morning Show, on CBC Radio One.