Digging up History

Thousands of artifacts recovered near Muskrat Falls and presented to Innu Elders

By Marion Organ, Environmental and Regulatory Compliance Manager, Lower Churchill Project

It’s not every day you hear about an archaeological dig being a prerequisite to a development project in Newfoundland and Labrador. But the hydroelectric development at Muskrat Falls on the lower Churchill River is no ordinary project.

When the Lower Churchill Project began, Nalcor Energy committed to carrying out all project work in a manner that respects the culture and heritage of the area. The protection and preservation of historical resources in the project area – including any archaeological findings that would provide a glimpse of the past – was a key part of that commitment.

Through consultations and interviews during the environmental assessment process, the team learned about various Aboriginal peoples’ historic use of the land near Muskrat Falls. They soon recognized the possibility that important cultural remnants may be buried within the proposed project footprint, and moved forward to better define the true archaeological potential of the site.

Nalcor is committed to ensuring that the recovery of archaeological resources is carried out before site work can begin in a particular area. In 2012, excavation began on the south side of the river in the area to be developed for the powerhouse and spillway. The crew returned to the field in 2013 for additional recovery work, including eight new sites on the North Spur.

Arch_2 CompressedAs a result of this work, the team was able to gain valuable knowledge about previous use of the land by Aboriginal peoples. Over the past two years archaeologists have uncovered significant evidence of past occupation by Aboriginal peoples in the area.

More than 40,000 artifacts were recovered and included hearths and pit features, stone tools, burnt food bone and charcoal, and some ceramics, representing ancient Amerindian campsites dating back to between 2,000 and 3,500 years ago.

The artifacts and findings were presented to the Innu elders for the first time on November 19, 2013 (click here to view the presentation). The elders also provided insight and traditional knowledge of the use of Muskrat Falls. For example, one of the findings was an unusual pattern of large rocks that were deliberately placed, which was believed to be used for canoe making. When it was presented, one of the elders recalled building canoes as a child at Muskrat Falls, and gave an overview of his time spent in the area.

Although recovery work is complete for this year, recording and analysis of all recovered items will continue using radiocarbon dating and mapping, before the materials are handed over to the Provincial Archaeology Office for further examination.

(All archaeological assessment and recovery work at Muskrat Falls has been in compliance with the Historic Resources Act and Archaeological Investigation Permit Regulations).

Lower Churchill Project: North Spur Stabilization Works

Members of the Lower Churchill Project Geotechnical Delivery Team attended the 1st International Workshop on Landslides in Sensitive Clays, which was held in Quebec City on October 28-30, 2013.

Regis Bouchard, Lead Geotechnical Engineer, and Robert Ilett, Package Leader North Spur Stabilization, both for the Lower Churchill Project, presented a poster session titled Lower Churchill Project: North Spur Stabilization Works – appropriate geotechnical investigation supports completion of stabilization design.

Prior to being accepted at this conference, an abstract was presented to the conference organizers for review. Below is the abstract submitted and attached is the poster presentation by the team working on the North Spur stabilization design.

Construction of the Lower Churchill Hydroelectric Development Project has begun at the Muskrat Falls site. The powerhouse, spillway and dam structures will be built on sound Archean rock. The north side (left bank) of the Churchill River however, is closed by a natural spur of land (known as the North Spur) that is comprised of a complex stratified deposit, including sensitive clay and silty clay soils. The unique nature of the North Spur deposit has been recognized for some time, with initial investigation activity commencing in 1965.

Following a significant landslide on the downstream side of the North Spur in 1978, an extensive geotechnical investigation was conducted. Consequently, a series of pump wells was installed to decrease the water pressure in the ground and upgrade stability of the North Spur.

Increasing the water level at the upstream side of the spur, in association with the Muskrat Falls reservoir, will have consequences on the natural stability of the area. To improve the stability of the North Spur to an acceptable level, a series of stabilization works will be constructed prior to impoundment of the reservoir. The design of these stabilization measures was initiated in 1981.

To complete the stabilization works design, further geotechnical investigation was conducted during the summer of 2013. Use of investigation tools such as seismic cone penetrometer (SCPT) and continuous sampling with a sonic drill has provided a better understanding of the nature and properties of the soils that comprise the North Spur. The completed design has now been updated to incorporate the results of the most recent investigation.

The display illustrates the nature and properties of the soils comprising of the North Spur based on geotechnical investigation results and identifies the stabilization works planned to protect this important feature of the Muskrat Falls Project.

Proudly leading the Red Shoe Crew Walk for Families in St. Anthony

By: Tony Walker
Asset Specialist, TRO Northern Region

I could think of a number of reasons why people should support Ronald McDonald House and the Red Shoe Crew Walk for Families. However, there is one main reason why I am proud to be helping organize a walk in St. Anthony – my daughter. Six months after my daughter Heidi was born she was diagnosed with Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) and required heart surgery. The surgery had to occur in Ottawa because it couldn’t be done in Newfoundland at that time. The great staff at the Janeway informed us that everything would work out fine, and soon we got the news that the surgery was scheduled to take place at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa and arrangements were made for us to stay at the Ronald Macdonald House. We didn’t know exactly what we were in for at this point since Ronald Macdonald in our mind was simply a hamburger place. We quickly learned that was not the case.

My wife Marilyn and my mother accompanied Heidi to Ottawa while I stayed at home fretting and looking after our son Christopher who was four years old at the time. They spent three weeks in the home away from home called Ronald Macdonald House and returned back to our province with a perfectly healthy baby while being treated themselves like royalty. The Ronald McDonald House had a kitchen fully stocked with everything except Carnation milk (Heidi was a Carnation baby), in which they could prepare meals when they so desired; provided rooms clean enough to eat off the floors and kept them clean for the duration of their stay; had staff that were courteous and lightened even the worst, scariest of days with smiles and pleasantries making the stay away from home as enjoyable as possible. The House was adjacent to the hospital, making it a short walk to get back and forth. There was also a van parked in front of the building always ready to take them wherever they wanted to go.

The new Ronald Macdonald House here will certainly offer the same amenities as those offered my family during their stay in Ottawa while eliminating the financial worries, letting them concentrate fully on the well being of the loved ones they are there to support.

In taking on the leadership of the Red Shoe Crew Walk in St. Anthony, with assistance from Hydro employee Nadine Hillier and my daughter Heidi, we hope to get a lot of involvement from the people of St. Anthony and surrounding communities in the area. And with the assistance of Hydro employees in Labrador communities reporting to the St. Anthony office, we hope to obtain walkers from the various communities from Charlottetown to Mary’s Harbour as well making this event a huge success.

Being from remote Newfoundland and Labrador, there is a great likelihood that we will directly, through or children or grandchildren, or indirectly, through someone we know very close to us that have children, unfortunately require the assistance of the Janeway Hospital. And now with a Ronald McDonald House for our province, it’s great to know families will be provided the same opportunity and hospitality as my family was given in Ottawa. It is only then that people will realize the true value of such a service.

Teaching youth about business by volunteering with the Junior Achievement Program

By: Melanie Goode

Human Resources Student – Lower Churchill Project

On June 5 and 11, 2012, I had an opportunity to give back to the community by teaching youth about business. As a member of the Lower Churchill Project Human Resources Department, with my supervisor Mark McGrath, I was able to use team work and leadership to emphasize the mission of the Junior Achievement Program ‘To inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy.’

Working on the Lower Churchill Project has given me the opportunity to gain a broad range of work experience in the field of Human Resources. When Mark asked if I would like to volunteer with the Junior Achievement Program, I didn’t hesitate at the chance for a new learning opportunity.

My goal for my final work term was to gain invaluable experience to prepare me for the work force. Working with youth and delivering a program based on business methods is helping to achieve that goal. The program we delivered was titled ‘Our Business World’ and was presented to a group of Grade 6 students from St. Teresa’s School over a four-hour period, divided into two sessions. The program involved group activities and discussion as well as facilitator lead lectures on four topics including: organization, management, production and marketing.

Studying and working in Human Resources allowed me to draw upon personal experiences to enhance the delivery of the program. The students also contributed to the conversations by sharing their knowledge of the business world by providing examples and participating in activities such as completing a job application.

Volunteering with the Junior Achievement program was a great learning opportunity, not only for the students but for me as well. I will definitely look at other opportunities to volunteer with Junior Achievement in the future and I encourage all members to get involved with the program.

Melanie Goode, Human Resource student – Lower Churchill Project, gives youth a lesson in business excellence

Nalcor employees share their contagious energy to give back to communities

By Melissa Noonan, Nalcor Energy co-op student

As a co-op student, I went into my term open and ready to learn about communications along with Nalcor Energy’s operations and business practices – I know, what a keener. One thing I’ve noticed during my time with Nalcor that continues to excite and inspire me is the sense of unity within the company, and how that in turn, is extended to the community. It’s invigorating to be a part of a company where employees enthusiastically support corporate initiatives.

I witnessed this support first hand during Nalcor’s cross-company Shave for the Brave event in support of Young Adults Cancer Canada (YACC). Churchill Falls, Holyrood, and St. John’s participated in the event on March 30, and Stephenville will hold its event on April 20. As of March 30, nearly $13,400 has been raised by Nalcor and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro employees, with donations still rolling in.

John Flynn’s Boston Bruins shave

Co-op students learn the ropes of their professions at Nalcor

By James Nugent
Co-op Engineering Student
Protection, Control and Communications Engineering

“Safety Culture, Task Based Risk Assessments, Tailboard Safety Talks, Change Management, Engineering Design Best Practices” are just some of the key phrases I have become accustomed to using since I started my engineering co-operative (co-op) term with the Protection, Control and Communications Engineering team at Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, a Nalcor company. I was asked to write this blog in the spirit of National Co-op Week, something which I feel privileged to be a part of.

Nalcor provides a great environment for students to develop both academically and professionally. Whether seeking guidance from fellow employees, direct supervisors or senior management, I have never been pushed aside; they have always gone out of their way to lend a helping hand. I feel this environment stems directly from Nalcor’s core values of open communication, accountability, honesty and trust, respect and dignity and leadership. I have learned over the course of my two co-op terms here to incorporate those core values into everything I do.

The best part of working at Nalcor is their willingness and encouragement of engineering students to leave their cubicles and visit some of the generating sites throughout the island. I have had the phenomenal opportunity to be involved with capital projects in Bay D’Espoir, the island’s largest generating station in both physical size and generating capacity. I was able to experience first-hand the devices that we learn about in textbooks and how Nalcor utilizes these assets in the grand scheme of Hydro Generation. In my opinion, it is one thing to learn about these devices and their analysis, but it is another to use them in a design where the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador depend on their effectiveness, but more importantly their safe operation.

Co-op student James Nugent outside the Bay d’Espoir generating facility.

This leads me into Nalcor’s number one priority: Safety. At Nalcor, my safety, the safety of my colleagues and the community is the number one priority. This is even more important for co-op students. We are still learning and the unfortunate fact is that sometimes we are unaware of the dangers around us. Nalcor has introduced a new safety initiative since my last work term here that requires employees with less than six months of work experience to wear a green hard hat. At first I thought it was negative that it singled me out as being a new person on the job but after wearing it in the field it became obvious that it was an advantage. It is always good to have others watch over me and be conscious of my inexperience, and I found people more willing to share their years of experience.

I want to thank my team with the Protection Controls Communications Department and Memorial University for the invaluable experience of working for an energy sector leader whose focus is more on safety than the bottom line. I know my time at Nalcor will have a positive influence on myself as an individual and my development as a future engineer.

 

Engineer to say goodbye to 10 inches of hair for Young Adult Cancer Canada

By Caryn Phillips
Protection and Control Engineer, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro

This year I’m taking part in Young Adult Cancer Canada’s (YACC) Shave for the Brave. While I’m not shaving my head, I will be donating 10 inches of my long locks to help make wigs for children with hair loss issues. As Nalcor Energy is a major sponsor of this worthwhile event I’ll be taking on the scissors at the St. John’s office on March 30.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of YACC, it is an organization that provides support and services for young adults dealing with cancer. Their mandate is to help the people battling cancer at this stage in their life endure challenges and issues specific to their age group. As such, YACC has created programs to help what they call ‘the forgotten generation’ face these challenges.

Caryn, right, and John Flynn, left, with the Project Execution and Technical Services team, are participating in Nalcor’s Shave for the Brave to support Young Adult Cancer Canada on March 30.

I struggled when starting to write this blog – I don’t have any personal experience with young adult cancer, no inspiring story, and I’d never really verbalized why it meant so much to me to participate. I wasn’t sure what it was that really drove me to fundraise for the cause; I just knew it was something I wanted to do. Then I talked to my friends and co-workers and the answer became obvious; I am a young adult, as are a large number of the important people in my life. I knew that should any of them be affected by cancer, I would be truly grateful for organizations such as YACC and the life-changing services they provide.

Services such as Goaltender and Retreat Yourself offer young adults the support and guidance they need to make ‘the rest of their lives the best of their lives.’ With all that in mind, raising awareness and money for such services seems the least I can do. As for donating my hair, that part was easy. I get to physically give something of myself to make a child’s life better. Something maybe money can’t provide. I am very attached to my hair, it’s part of my identity, as I’m sure is the case for a lot of people. However, if it can give one child the confidence boost that a wig may provide every inch will be worth it. The support I’ve received from my family, friends, and co-workers is just a (much appreciated, and very inspiring) bonus. The free hair cut is just the icing on the cake!

For more information on YACC, please visit their website:

http://www.youngadultcancer.ca/

Help keep our meter readers safe

By Jim Wiseman, Customer Services Technical Support Supervisor, Hydro

 

While spring may seem just around the corner, many communities throughout the province still have a large amount of snow and ice on the ground.

Throughout the year, Hydro’s meter readers visit thousands of homes each month to read the electrical meters located on customers’ premises.  Their safety is a priority for us.  We remind our customers to maintain safe and clear access to their electrical meter throughout the entire year and especially during the winter months.

As a Hydro customer, you can help keep our meter readers safe by ensuring the pathway to your meter is free of snow and ice on your scheduled meter reading day.  If for any reason it is considered unsafe to get to your electrical meter, our meter reader will estimate the reading. This estimation is based on your prior consumption.

Here are some tips to help our meter readers stay safe:

·         Maintain a clear path to your meter, free of ice, snow and any obstruction.

·         Always tether or contain pets in areas away from your meter while it is being read.

·         If your meter is located inside your home, bring your pet to another room.

·         Ensure trees or shrubs near your meter do not obstruct reading or cause a hazard.

·         If your meter’s glass is cracked or broken, do not touch! Call Hydro at 1.888.737.1296 immediately to report the fault to one of our Customer Service Representatives.

·         If your meter’s accessibility has changed due to new construction or landscaping, just call Hydro at 1.888.737.1296 or email customerservices@nlh.nl.ca to let us know.

 

In the photo above, the resident has cleared the pathway to the electrical meter, providing safe and easy access for our meter readers.

Nalcor supports the R.E.A.L. Program through the MUN Engineering Student Society

By Kris Costello
Asset Manager, Nalcor Energy Oil and Gas

Nalcor Energy was a proud Platinum Sponsor of the 6th Annual MUN Engineering Student’s Society Winter Charity Ball on Saturday, February 25th, 2012. I had the pleasure of attending this event and addressing the attendees on Nalcor Energy’s behalf.

MUN’s Engineering Student Societies should be commended for expanding their presence in the community since my involvement as a student in years past (longer than I care to say). Events such as the annual PI Throw and the Bridge Building Competition have been longstanding traditions that I was involved in, but the student society has since expanded their role in the community with events like the Winter Charity Ball and fundraising for the Janeway. I hear that they are not stopping there, with even more events planned for the Easter Seals and the Association for New Canadians.

The R.E.A.L. (Recreation Experiences and Leisure) Program was chosen by the MUN engineering students as the focus of this year’s Winter Charity Ball due to the tangible difference that this program makes in our community. The R.E.A.L program’s goal is to help as many youth as possible who, due to financial circumstances, cannot participate in registered recreational and leisure programs that range from art and music to swimming and hockey. Not only does this program keep these kids busy and active, it promotes personal growth through increased knowledge and skill development.

To find out more about the R.E.A.L. Program visit:

 

http://www.stjohns.ca/cityservices/recreation/real/index.jsp 

 

 

Holiday entertaining safety

By Sarah Churchill, Safety Analyst

The holidays are a time of friends and good eating! The following tips will help you make sure the food you serve is safe:

  • Ensure food is cleaned and stored properly.
  • Take into account allergies when inviting guests to your home.
  • Keep small foods out of reach of young children, as they may pose choking hazards.
  • Keep sharp utensils out of reach of young children.
  • Keep pets away from food and never leave a pet unattended where food has been laid out.
  • Keep raw food separated from cooked and ensure cooked food is thoroughly cooked.
  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold to avoid harmful bacteria growth.

Health Canada has tips here on holiday food safety: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/food-aliment/holiday-fete-eng.php

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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