Monday, 4 December 2017

MUST THE PEOPLE OF HV-GB AND MUD LAKE LEARN TO LIVE IN HARM'S WAY?

Guest Post by Cabot Martin
Dr Stig Bernander, someone I have the utmost respect for as a technical expert and as a very decent and moral man, continues to try to save us from ourselves at the North Spur.
His most recent contribution - Summing Up of North Spur Stability Issuesgets right down into the weeds. He demonstrates that based on the little data that Nalcor has, something as basic as filling the reservoir may well trigger a failure of the North Spur.
Fairly basic stuff to overlook or not worry about.
Imagine that – a well motivated older man, who has earned the right to have nothing more on his mind than trying to pick out the perfect gift for his grandchild, is torn up over what he sees as a pending catastrophe at the North Spur and Stan Marshall is up in Labrador singing “All is Well” to the local citizenry who are not in a position to say “BS” and prove it.

All because Nalcor has not done its homework and hides behind the lack of data and proper analysis.
Dr. Stig Bernander
The image below outlines the problem.

You are looking north from the south side of the Churchill River.

The Upper and Lower Muskrat Falls (yes there are two) are shown at the bottom. The white line above the yellow dashed line is the Trans Labrador Highway at about 90 meters above sea level.

All (I repeat all) the many square kilometers within the dashed yellow line are most certainly underlain by various amounts of sensitive glaco-marine clay including Quick Clay that can suddenly turn to watery mud.

 The Google Earth image was taken in June 2015 and the amount of land disturbance is clear (with more since).  

The proper and only sure-fire way of getting data is to drill boreholes and retrieve cores of the various underground strata. No boreholes no core – no core no reliable data – no data no reliable studies.

I have divided the whole area into three different risk or “uncertainly” zones based solely on the presence or absence of soil data.

Zone One is the “best” grading up to Three which is the worst – none of them are good. 

Zone 1 – area of limited boreholes giving limited data coverage especially as the underground conditions in this area are known to vary quickly from place to place where a borehole will encounter a say 2 meter sand at a certain depth but one nearby will see nothing but clay at that depth. 

Zone 2 – area of almost no boreholes

Zone 3 – area of no boreholes at all – not a single one – Nada .

The whole very large  Zone 3 area is a sloping upward time bomb of sensitive marine clay ready to let go at any moment for innumerable potential reasons – including a failure of the North Spur itself in Zone One in the case outlined by Dr Bernander in his latest report - the specific trigger will be predictably labelled as “unpredictable” in the post mortem on any disaster -- when all and sundry are running to cover their asses.

Speaking of which reminds me of an article I read in Psychology Today a year or so ago on how the residents of Oso Washington State learned to live with the risk of death by landslide.

And lest I be misunderstood, I am not suggesting that the residents downstream of Muskrat are like the homeowners of Oso. No, the poor people of HV-GB and Mud Lake are having risk forced on them.

No, it’s all those who are “in on” Muskrat that have to have build up their – “No problem at the North Spur” defense mechanisms.

I mean, seriously, how can all those top Nalcor people sleep at night with the North Spur hanging over their heads? What am I missing?

Here’s the link:


Oh!

Did I hear you ask “What about the insurance?”

Nice (if amoral) try but I have it from the highest authority that there is a $23 million cap on Nalcor’s loss coverage at Muskrat Falls.

41 comments:

  1. The people of mud lake and happy valley goose bay need to take Dr. Bernarder's work and submit it to the Professional Engineers and Geoscientist of NL association. They should make a public complaint to the board which regulates engineering in the province.

    In no way should there be this much public discord on an engineered design. PEGNL need to take a position, but alas they are the most reactionary association of professionals.

    Take a stand.

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    1. That is a great idea! We have to come at this from as many sides as possible if we want our people to be safe.

      Nalcor's head in the sand(pun intended) mentality has to stop! We have to get more forceful and meaningful with our actions.

      And just in case any Nalcor or Government officials are reading this, I am not eluding to violence. Non-violence has always been our greatest weapon.

      Delete
    2. PEGNL will do nothing. They are too entrenched with local interests. However, PEGNL is concerned with public image and want to keep their independence as a self regulating body. If the public was suggest that they be shut down and that the regulation of engineers be pigged backed on some other jurisdiction (like Ontario or Alberta) they might get scared and pretend to change.

      Delete
  2. Cabot if you have it from the lowest authority that there is a 23 million cap on Nalcor liability, who will be liable for the billions lost and the lives devastated and lost, when the spur fails?

    It seems like a clear case of regulatory negligence leaving the asset and residents at risk. If only there were a lawyer in NL not afraid to draw the ire of the emperor, eh Cabot? Do you know a lawyer with gonads intact who might be up for civil action Cabot?

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    1. I would think that the Provincial and Federal governments will be liable, would they not?

      As for a lawyer here in NL with balls enough to stand up against the province, I can think of a few here who I know are not fans of the project, but I think we'd need an outsider to make the hardest push against the government/Nalcor.

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    2. ANY Lawyer with personal strength and integrity enough to go against the corrupt $y$tem on this will win the hearts of the citizens and I'm pretty sure a crowd fund campaign cold adequately cover the costs.

      Delete
  3. Informed in part by Mr. Martin's earlier writings about the danger's of the sensitive clays in and around the Muskrat Falls site, in my January 2016 Telegram article ["It's not just the North Spur we have to worry about"], I wrote in part that:

    "Since there is no evidence that Nalcor is designing a plan to stabilize the remaining one third (800 metres) of the 2,500 metre long sub-surface, sand/silt/clay-filled valley, on what basis has Nalcor been able to make a rational decision that the one third portion of the U-shaped valley running between the upstream north bank and the Kettle Lakes gorge area already has a natural safety factor equal to or better than the North Spur after stabilization? .... (Accordingly) I would ... ask that government include in its review any potential risk/safety and cost implications associated with the entire sub-surface, sand/silt/clay-filled valley that extends from the south side of the Trans-Labrador Highway to Spirit Mountain, or as a minimum, from the south side of the Trans-Labrador Highway to where Nalcor's North Spur stabilization works turn northeastward, away from the reservoir's north bank."

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  4. Having read Dr. Bernander's latest document, a couple questions arise.

    1. Issues 3.1, 3.2, and 4.1 discuss studies undertaken by Bernander and Drury to show that the spur will fail with a cut off wall in place and the reservoir is filled to full operating level.The cross section of the spur shown in Figure 3.1 seems to indicate that the analysis was performed with a cut off wall embedded in the pre-construction spur and doesn't show any of the changes to the slopes, the addition of the pump wells or relief wells in the down stream slope, or any other stabilization work. Not that I'm any expert in this subject or anything so I ask in case I missed something here. Figure 3.1 also shows that the upstream COW studied is not the same as the COW and other upstream protections as installed by Nalcor. What impact might this have on the study results?

    2. The executive summary says "Many of the issues dealt with in the current report only apply to fully water-saturated highly porous soils." Are the soils of the spur still considered saturated with the existence and operation of the cut off wall, pump wells, and relief wells?

    3. Issue 9 says relief wells should be installed into the lower clay layer. Just to clarify, is the recommendation for Nalcor to extend the line of relief wells that they have installed further along the north bank of the spur and river?

    Thanks.

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  5. At a time when NL is desperate to keep communities alive the unlearned lessons of the cod collapse are being repeated. A defacto commercial fishery has been expanding both in TAC and length of season.

    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/newfoundland-cod-fishing-sustainability-fogo-island/article3717082

    Against scientific advice and once again to satisfy short term political agendas cod stocks are being hammered and stocks falling again. The technology issues, like draggers degrading habitat and dumping and discarding bycatch and undersized cod, are all being repeated, to predictable results. At times like this I wish there were a vengeful god with a good supply of lightning bolts for federal politicians and the Newfoundland and Labrador Groundfish Industry Development Council (NL-GIDC).

    The story outlines a sustainable future from Tony Cobb on Fogo and Tom Best from Petty Harbour. It involves producing high value product from sustainably caught fish to benefit local communities, ecologic community based fisheries.

    In the early 1990's, in the midst of the cod collapse, I was a NGO delegate to a UN conference on high seas fisheries. NGO's brought a fisherman from Petty Harbour who testified before a plenary of the sustainable community based fishery in Petty Harbour being destroyed by CANADIAN draggers primarily, not European villains.

    Cabot you were there too. The Canadian delegation responded by flying an entire planeload of supportive NGO's and scientists to rebut the truth teller. We were told in no uncertain terms that we were being unpatriotic and should not "air our laundry in public".

    I was struck Cabot that despite your work with NIFA and the Petty Harbour CO-OP you did not stand up for inshore fishers and chose instead to wave the stained Canadian flag. Here we are a quarter century on and the unlearned lessons are repeating themselves. Will it be short term profits or communities this time? Sadly the answer is playing out in real time.

    I hear nothing from the flag waving patriotic class that rushed to the UN defending Canada's honour. Are they defending the interests of coastal communities now?

    Bernard Martin, from your clan it would appear, received the Goldman Prize (the environmental Nobel prize), for his truth telling and community based vision for a fishery.
    http://www.goldmanprize.org/recipient/bernard-martin/

    Where are the "patriots" now who told him to shut up Cabot?



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  6. Just an insitu silt and marine clay deposit standing in the way of reservoir headwaters. Reminds me of Mount Polley Dam, which failed catastrophically . What can possibly go wrong?! Of course there will be Errors and Omissions Insurance behind the Engineers who certified the Design. Who underwrites the "Re-insurance Policy? Are they also "under water" already?

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  7. Presently dealing with a possible environmental problem: While still working with Nfld Hydro in the mid 1970s, I built my house and installed a septic tank system. With several back ups this past week, duty called to find the trouble. Plumbers and tank pump guys made various speculations,as to this approx 43 year tank, as did I, but a pump out did not solve the problem.
    A contractor this morning, who was to replace the tank, walked away, citing various problems he might encounter, and also made more speculations.
    I asked a oil industry engineer if anyone had a camera to look and shoot some video. He came an hour later with a rod, and his sons video camera that his kid uses, strapped to his forehead, when on his dirt bike.
    The camera with a flashlight attached, lowered into the tank , just above water level showed what was going on, and reminded me of the Titanic video.....a rusted and blocked up inlet baffle, allowing just a trickle of water through.
    The kids toy video camera gave excellent quality pictures, with and without water and solids flowing.
    Now how will the North Spur pump drain system function, the quantity and spacing of holes, the drainage rate, the characteristics of the quick clay and sand, under stationary and vibration conditions, and under the pressures expected........
    Now to think that with an expenditure of 12.7 billion, we know so little about underneath the surface of the North Spur. But even in the 1960s, Acres Canadian Bechtel, knew this area was very problamatic with quick clay.
    The kid was anxious to get his camera back, and I gave him 20.00 for rental. The plumber was 360.00 , but would have achieved nothing without the camera.
    To think, already 10 BILLION spent, and we know so little of underground North Spur.......and gamble on the loss of assets and lives.
    World class engineers and consultants ......my ass. Hardly a peep from anyone, and as Robert says...engineers insurance for errors and omissions.
    One engineer, with a smile, told me 4 years ago....`who cares....we are all making lots of money`. Is this the mentality of all associated with this fiasco.........
    Winston

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    1. Think we could get the kid with the camera to find where the blockage is stopping the flow of anything but bullshit from the Nalcor drain Winston?

      I would contribute $100.

      Delete
    2. Not one politician, engineer, or person tied to this project can ever plead ignorance/innocence if anything were to happen. Questions have long been asked. Issues long raised. Though it's not a politician's job to know about quick clay, it's their job to protect us from it's potential hazard. It's their job to be able to show/prove mitigating measures put in place... to keep people at rest. I bet if all those in government since 2012 had to forfeit their pensions in the event of a disaster (to subsidize a meager insurance policy), the situation would be less murky.
      dm

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  8. "I have a very broad question about Muskrat as follows, for you (S.Marshall), for Nalcor, for all the professionals,
    the experts, the scientists, the engineers, for our Prov. & Fed. Govts., and for our whole Society.
    We had a magnificent massive natural river system, which was first seriously disturbed and developed 50-60
    years ago with the Ch.Falls Project. We now have a second imposition almost completed, added downstream
    on top of the first, ironically called "a run of the river" system.
    I must respectfully remind you that in the latest Independent Review of the Mud Lake 2017 Flood Disaster as
    completed last Sept. 2017, totally inadequate data was - and remains - unavailable for over 300 miles of a very
    powerful water system.
    " My Questions: How can anyone - ANYONE - launch into this plan without having an intelligent understanding
    and full complete data of the whole river, its terrain, its catchment area, its loaded basin, and its climate, and without even any passing mention of the human control factor now already exercised by Hydro Quebec? How can such human arrogance and ignorance be allowed to get away with this, and the further tragedies anticipated here in the future? The only answer to correct this terrible and offensive presumption, that I can think of, is to close it down NOW." - Susan Felsberg

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    1. I suggest the so called `independent` review of the Mud Lake Flood disaster, was not so independent. PENG2 says their conclusion give plausible deniability that Nalcor was not at fault. A true independent review, I submit , would find otherwise. Nevertheless the review cites a lack of knowledge and data by Nalcor, and I think inappropriate control of the gates and upstream water levels, to mitigate the downstream flow.
      Winston

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  9. 23 million - that should just about cover Ed Marin's pension.

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  10. What is the intent of this particular action to re-open the Churchill Falls contract?

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/supreme-court-churchill-falls-1.4432091

    What has changed since the last such action to re-negotiate this contract?

    What leverage exists for a re-negotiation, from NL's perspective; sell, give HQ the Muskrat and any surplus power it may generate? Realignment of the Southern Boundary?

    Or is it that the Feds have a new vision for NL/QC resolution and potential job creation in the Northern Regions?

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  11. Also, with any reference materials mentioned, I can't help but wonder how the freezing and thawing of this pent up water body will affect the stability of the spur. All I've seen so far is a blatant disregard for the input of trusted professionals, the PUB, the concerned public and common sense. All done and speeded through by egotistic ,dictating ,greedy persons given the right by legislation to destroy a province's future and likely murder a number of its citizens.

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  12. This shines a light on the desperation that motivates this government. "Siobhan Coady says a win could mean billions of dollars as Newfoundland and Labrador faces deficits and mounting debt."

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  13. Ches Crosbie has both a dream and a vision, to bring the PC party to lead us out of the wilderness.
    Ches has a dog. He is also a AVID hunter. He sometimes wears sealskin, but may oppose clubbing?
    Ches has a TEAM..wonder who? Can we judge him by his team of advisers?
    Ches likes Mary Vickers hor d'oeuvers for Xmas guests. You must bake at 400. Ches appears not versed in metric, a Liberal punishment from Trudeau the Elder.
    Ches had a Rhodes scholarship...yet is not listed as a Rhodes scholar!
    Ches quotes Colin Powell, who promotes sweat, determination and hard work.......to bad Powell deceived the UN on the weapons of mass destruction, to invade Iraq. But who remembers that?
    Ches wants credit for Trudeau the Younger apology in Labrador last week, which he says was more important than financial compensation for the trauma caused . But Ches himself preferred to take a big slice of the their compensation.........must be millions? He accepted it to show he really cares. And he needed that for the Xmas Mary Vickers, for his TEAM
    Ches might get angry.......sometime in the future.......Ches has a angry face , not yet seen.
    Why would Ches be angry? Because of Muskrat Falls?
    Is Ches angry with Danny Williams, or any of the fiasco tribe? Not saying....but gladly has Tom Marshall on board.
    Ches is angry with Dwight Ball. Ball has no good way forward.
    Ches has a dream and a vision.
    Ches believes in Santa Clause. .........and in Tom Marshall.
    Ches got caught driving drunk and hid it for decades.
    Ches was bad, but learned a lesson.........confess and seek forgiveness, before being exposed.
    Who thinks Ches got what it takes to turn this ship around?
    When will Ches speak to the issues raised under UG?
    I want to hear Ches speak to those issues. Can Ches speak, and show his anger toward past PC policy?
    Ches can speak.
    Will Ches speak? I am all ears.
    Ches seeks my support. What is there to support. Mary Vickers?
    PF

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  14. Power generator "games the system". Guess who pays?

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/goreway-power-station-investigation-1.4433061

    Wonder where this ratepayer money went.

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  15. Let me understand this;

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/nalcor-nunatukavut-strike-deal-1.4432875

    Ratepayers are ramped up to subsidize a non income producing white elephant at Muskrat. Natives are bribed to give permission for further fossil fuel and run of river power developments?? Does not add up.

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    1. How pathetic Todd Russell is selling his soul, and the hopes and dreams of his people, for an "agreement promising mutual respect in future negotiations" and oh yes 8 million bucks from the folks destroying your territory, poisoning your people and making you look like a fool.

      By ignoring the agreement the last time you "negotiated" with Nalcor on mercury testing and water levels did Nalcor inspire trust? These are the folks that will show you respect Todd? Do you spell respect M:O:N:E:Y Todd?

      In the recent paradoxical words of Denise Cole of the Labrador Land Protectors "our leaders don't speak on behalf of the people".

      Delete
  16. Ratepayers gored in ON

    http://www.tomadamsenergy.com/2017/12/05/ontario-ratepayers-gored-at-goreway/

    Tom Adams hits again. NL ratepayers take note, whatever tricks that work in ON..........

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  17. One must hope that, sometime in early 2018, the Inquiry will "tear down the walls of secrecy", and show the Public how this travesty called Muskrat, got sanctioned, and delivered;

    http://www.thetelegram.com/news/local/nalcor-energy-secrets-secured-by-law-167795/

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  18. The Bernander paper studies the north spur as it was before construction with a cut of wall stuck in it. How is this a valid study now that the spur slopes have been changed, pump wells added, etc? You're drawing conclusions and instilling fear in people based on a study that doesn't actually model the spur as it presently exists. The fear may actually be a bigger health risk to people downstream than the spur itself.

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    1. It is a valid study because the quick clay is still at heart of the spur and poses the same risk of failure before the cutoff wall and slope was altered.

      Despite the lipstick on that pig, it still is a pig anon. Why have you missed the risk of sudden progressive failure? Your denial amplifies the risk to life and safety.

      Delete
    2. Changing the shape of the spur and the other stabilization features must absolutely change the dynamic behaviour of that land mass, if not, modeling of soils is very different than other systems that I have modeled myself. Any model that doesn't accurately represent the system under study is meaningless, which makes the fear being caused by blog posts like this unnecessary.

      If someone can provide an actual answer as to why this study is valid I would be interested in hearing it.

      Delete
    3. I think a failure of quick clay is like having a large mass on a platform supported on roller ball bearings. Once it is ready to go, like a child could push 10 ton with little resistance and a small force. . Stick a wall or drill holes , or change the slope.makes no difference..a child can pull 10 ton on ball bearings. Same thing, made simple so you can understand.
      PF

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    4. Anon your logic is faulty. ACCORDING TO YOU ANY ALTERATION OF THE FACE OF A QUICK CLAY FORMATION INVALIDATES ANY ANALYSIS. This is silly is it not?

      As PF points out the risk is from a failure in that core that is so inundated that drill stems drop under their own weight. Are you an employee of Nalcor anon?

      Delete
    5. Mr. Marcocchio, that's not what I'm suggesting at all. What I'm suggesting is that any major alteration to the spur geometry or addition of other stabilization measures must be accounted for in models created to represent the spur. The north spur, as represented by Bernander, no longer exists. Once the reservoir is filled the spur will not look like that studied in the Bernander paper referenced as Nalcor has altered it, drastically. The cut off wall doesn't even appear to be in the same location in the spur as constructed by Nalcor. The actual cut off wall is in place from elevation 20m down into the lower clay layer where Bernander shows it as extending from above full service level of 39m down into the lower clay layer. If the model used is not an accurate representation of the spur as it is now, then the results, no matter how dramatic, are invalid. I'm looking for a convincing argument that I'm wrong.

      No, I don't work for Nalcor, the provincial government, or any subsidiary, agency, board, etc of them.

      Cheers.

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    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    7. The instability at the core has not disappeared with the lipstick on the Nalcor remediation. According to you the problem has vanished.

      Do you accept that Nalcor used the wrong model for a quick clay formation? If so why do you err on the side of the reckless Nalcor claims?

      Delete
    8. One more thing anon. The cutoff wall is anchored to absolutely nothing, The gravel/quick clay formation goes down hundreds of feet. If the core liquefies the cutoff wall, like the whole formation will slide, progressively and quickly as the experts at the Geologic Association of Canada testified at the JRP has already happened many times on the Churchill.

      Delete
    9. "The instability at the core has not disappeared with the lipstick on the Nalcor remediation. According to you the problem has vanished."

      Not suggesting that at all. I'm looking for clarification that the Bernander paper is a valid representation of the spur to back up the the claim that it will fail as the reservoir is filled. I stand by my suspicions, that it isn't.

      The cut off wall is there to prevent water from entering specific layers of the spur, the geometry changes were made to change the forces acting on the different layers, the pump wells are there to control hydraulic forces in the spur. I disagree with your contention that these efforts have no affect on the spur itself and should be included in any modeling done going forward.

      I'll not blindly accept what Bernander says any more than I would anything Nalcor says.

      Delete
    10. You refuse to answer the fundamental question. Why do you trust the Nalcor incorrect model and doubt Bernander? You can't seem to accept the reality of the likelihood of liquefaction of the core when Nalcor has not demonstrated the extent of the quick clay, in fact they denied its existence until presented with evidence at the surface.

      You seem unconvinced by the evidence of Nalcor's hubris unsupported by any evidence from a secretive organization and refuse the informed testimony of the world expert on these matters.

      Where have you run models and for whom?

      Delete
    11. I would tend to side with Nalcor more as they are in ownership of the complete set of data and engineering regarding the spur whereas the rest of us, including Bernander, are not. I'm not saying Nalcor is perfect though, far from it.

      No one has yet to answer my fundamental question. Why should I consider the results of the Bernander paper as valid when it seemingly does not accurately represent the recently re-constructed north spur? I'm also fully aware that a model is a simplified representation of a much more complex system. British statistician, George EP Box had a great quote: "All models are wrong but some are useful."

      Nalcor's hubris? Yes, there's been a lot of that, no doubt, and to our detriment. I also remain unconvinced by the seeming hubris of people who think they fully understand a subject matter while looking at a subset of the information regarding it.

      Delete
    12. And what convinces you that despite Nalcor withholding data, lies about the existence of the quick clay, using the wrong model for soil stability, not having tested the majority of the formation, that they are reputable?? What they disclose is nothing but propaganda, yet you accept it because they hide the data! That is some logic anon.

      Your views are so stilted I have to ask again, where have you run models and for whom? Would you proclamations carry more weight if you were not faceless? You are just as likely to be a Nalcor troll as having any legitimate scientific questions. In fact you engage in the same denial.

      Why trust a bad model with the primary data hidden from scrutiny?

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    13. Again, you accuse me of blindly accepting Nalcor's version of things and belittle me for not blindly accepting Bernander's. I asked a question on a matter that stuck out like a sore thumb while reading both Bernander's and Drury's papers and am yet to receive a satisfactory answer.

      If you can't explain how the lack of full stabilization measures in Bernander's spur model affects the study results, don't bother responding.

      Delete
    14. Ah, now I see upon re-reading Drury's thesis that he discusses the very limitations I have asked about in Section 6.2. I am in fact correct, the stabilization features are not included in his model (or Bernander's) and they would impact the results of the study. I wonder now too how the difference in cut off wall representation versus real world impacts the amount of force applied to the spur and how the force impacts the spur itself. Also it will be interesting to see if Nalcor will apply Drury's new analysis method to the spur or if further refinement of it is required before that happens.

      I see from Environment Canada that the reservoir has been up around 21-22m elevation since at least April, meaning the spur is already loaded more than 2 times it's capability to remain intact, according to Drury's model.

      Whether Nalcor is using the wrong model seems to come down to the type of slide that occurred in 1978 and whether or not you believe it to have been a flowslide or a progressive failure.

      As for Nalcor withholding data on the spur, yeah, that doesn't surprise me at all. Show me a project where detailed engineering and data were widely released to the public. As part of my research on this I've inquired with people at other utilities about viewing reports regarding their dams on sensitive clays and was told not without a non-disclosure agreement and only then because I was a close colleague.

      To close, I have my answer, but also some new questions.

      Delete
  19. Now, the Bernander's question on the effect of horizontal versus sloped layers in Nalcor's modeling of the spur is interesting and I would like to see how that impacts on the analysis as well.

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