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Nalcor reportedly sends Astaldi workers home from Muskrat Falls hydro project


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Nalcor reportedly sends Astaldi workers home from Muskrat Falls hydro project

Nalcor Energy Corp. has ordered Astaldi SpA to halt work at the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador and is in the process of sending about 500 of the Rome-headquartered company's workers home.

"Given Astaldi's inability to continue to pay its workers, Nalcor has directed Astaldi to stop work," Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall said in an Oct. 18 email, a copy of which was posted in Newfoundland and Labrador news outlet NTV's Twitter feed."We are taking this action to minimize the financial harm placed upon the workers by Astaldi." Astaldi's surety, which is similar to a construction bond, has been ordered to pay funds to a workers' group that manages pensions and benefits for the employees, Marshall said.

Nalcor, which is owned by the provincial government, is making the arrangements for the workers return from the remote project site in the Lower Churchill River region of Labrador. Astaldi's Canadian unit earlier in October said its operations were not affected by insolvency proceedings initiated by its parent in Italy. The company was hired to construct the hydro project's intake and powerhouse, spillway and transition dams, with an 824-MW generating station. Its contract was worth a reported C$1.83 billion.

Marshall said Nalcor has financial insurance and securities in place to help it finish the project, which at last estimate had a cost of C$12.7 billion, more than double its original projection. He said Nalcor is still pushing toward first power from Muskrat Falls in 2019 and full production by 2020.

"We have also been working on a contingency plan to finish the work should Astaldi be unable to complete its remaining scope of work," Marshall's email said.