Nfld. & Labrador

Don't call us: In case of Muskrat Falls emergency, call government says Nalcor

Nalcor VP Gilbert Bennett says concerns from Happy Valley-Goose Bay's mayor over what to do in case of an emergency at Muskrat Falls are better directed to government.

In response to concerns from Happy Valley-Goose Bay's mayor, VP says Nalcor's role is to inform

A problem with the Muskrat Falls dam could affect homes, roads and the water supply, according to the town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay. (Courtesy Nalcor Energy)

A Nalcor executive overseeing the Muskrat Falls hydro project says concerns about an emergency situation should be directed to government — not the Crown corporation.

"There is a coordinated response plan between federal government, provincial government, municipalities and other emergency responders to deal with any situation," said Gilbert Bennett, Nalcor's vice president in charge of power development.

Bennett was reacting to comments from Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor Jamie Snook, who accused Nalcor of ignoring the town's worries.

Nalcor VP Gilbert Bennett talks about emergency plans for Muskrat Falls after Mayor Jamie Snook spoke out with concerns. 7:48

Snook told Labrador Morning the town's analysis of potential damage should the Muskrat Falls dam break shows 250 properties, 15 kilometres of roads and the town's water supply would be flooded.

Snook wants Nalcor to pledge support for the town and compensation for potential damage, but Bennett said the town should look to government for support.

"Our key role is to provide information to help responders respond to a situation, of course we'd assist with whatever resources we have in the region."

Nalcor VP Gilbert Bennett says Nalcor's role in an emergency situation is to inform first responders. (CBC)

Bennett said government officials, who are used to dealing with emergencies such as fires and floods, are best suited to deal with the effects on communities downstream in the event of a dam breach.

"The response, the planning, the coordination, the effort required to deal with those is exactly the same as the extremely unlikely event that we're talking about here."

Unclear who'd pay for damages

As for the cost of repairs after a breach in the dam, Bennett said it would depend on why it happened.

"That would depend on the specifics of the situation, what the cause was, and whether in fact there's liability and insurance issues that had to be dealt with at the time."

Happy Valley-Goose Bay mayor Jamie Snook wants Nalcor to pledge support for the town and compensation for potential damage. (CBC)

Partial flooding of the Muskrat Falls reservoir could start anytime after October 15.

Bennett said Nalcor is planning an emergency drill which Happy Valley-Goose Bay and other nearby towns could potentially be a part of.

"If there is a desire to make that a larger-scale event and involved the public, then that'll be a decision by the town and other providers."


Bailey White

CBC News

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