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Nalcor sends 500 workers home from main contractor at Labrador hydro project

Last Updated Oct 18, 2018 at 5:20 pm EST

The construction site of the hydroelectric facility at Muskrat Falls, Newfoundland and Labrador is seen on Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Newfoundland and Labrador's Crown-owned utility says it has directed the main contractor at the Muskrat Falls hydro-electric project site to stop work. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Newfoundland and Labrador’s Crown-owned utility says it has directed the main contractor at the Muskrat Falls hydro-electric megaproject site to stop work.

In an emailed statement Thursday, Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall says the move was made because of the inability of Italian contractor Astaldi Canada Inc. to continue to pay its workers.

Marshall says the action is to minimize the “financial harm placed upon the workers by Astaldi.”

He says the immediate priority is to make arrangements for the company’s 500 workers living at the Muskrat Falls site in Labrador to return home in a “safe and orderly fashion.”

Marshall said Nalcor’s action won’t have any impact on ongoing work by other contractors on the site.

He says Nalcor has recently notified Astaldi that all of the funds the contractor is currently eligible to earn under its contracts have been paid.

Marshall said Astaldi has been paid for all of the work they have completed to date on the powerhouse, intake and spillway for the Muskrat Falls project.

“Astaldi’s surety has directed payment of funds to the Resource Development Trades Council in relation to Astaldi’s obligations to the workers’ pensions and benefits plan.” he said.

The utility said it understands Astaldi’s workers are facing a “challenging situation” and it pledged to work to address their outstanding concerns.

“Nalcor has financial insurance and securities in place that provide us with the necessary financial protections. We have also been working on a contingency plan to finish the work should Astaldi be unable to complete its remaining scope of work.”

The $12.7-billion, 824-megawatt hydroelectric dam on the lower Churchill River will send power to Newfoundland and later Nova Scotia through subsea cables.

Marshall said Nalcor remains committed to producing power from the project in 2019 with full power available in 2020.