Nfld. & Labrador

Nalcor says Muskrat Falls protests cost $3 million

Nalcor has only accounted for less than two per cent of the $200 million that CEO Stan Marshall said protests would cost.

Amount much smaller than $200-million estimate from CEO, but costs still being assessed

Protesters embrace after leaving the Muskrat Falls work site in Labrador in October. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Five months after protests shut down the Muskrat Falls construction site, Nalcor says it's only able to account for $3 million dollars in extra costs due to the demonstration.

The protests were a bigger loss for the workers on site. They lost out on more than $15 million in wages for the 11 days the site was shut down.

The figures were obtained by CBC News through access to information.

Dozens of protesters blocked access to the construction site in October, forcing construction work to shut down and sending employees home.

On Tuesday, the RCMP laid charges against 28 people involved with the protests.

Lower Churchill Management Corporation, the Nalcor-owned company managing the construction, spent an additional $3 million for transportation, site services, security and salaries.

"Once everything is settled, the full impact to the schedule and the cost will be much greater," Nalcor said in the document.

Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall said in November that protests at the Muskrat Falls site would ultimately cost "hundreds of millions" of dollars. (CBC)

The costs incurred so far are less than two per cent of the $200 million Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall said the protesters were costing the project in November.

Still costs to calculate

Nalcor said contractors who were affected by the work stoppage haven't filed any claims to recover costs — yet.

"It is anticipated that these additional costs will be included in any future claims submitted by contractors," the statement from Nalcor said.

Nalcor also blames the protests for delaying large equipment that needed to be transported from Cartwright to the site. It was supposed to be worked on this winter on site, but is still sitting in Newfoundland.

Nalcor said the impact and costs related to that delay still aren't known.

One company which won't be looking for extra money for the delays is the main contractor Astaldi.

Nalcor said that the extra $600 million negotiated as part of a deal to keep the company on site and on schedule covers off any extra costs due to the protests, but it's unable to break out a specific number.

Marshall also warned that delays from the protest, and problems with a leaky cofferdam, prevented ice booms from being deployed and to expect extra damage to the structure.

That will be assessed in the spring.

No one from Nalcor was available to do an interview about the costs, but a spokesperson says it will likely be later this year before the Crown corporation has a full tally of the extra costs.


Peter Cowan

CBC News

Peter Cowan is a St. John's-based reporter with CBC News.