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Hope is spare subsea cable will sit on Corner Brook dock for a long time

The temporary structure needed for offloading more subsea cable on the Corner Brook dock will extend out towards the wharf's edge.
The temporary structure needed for offloading more subsea cable on the Corner Brook dock will extend out towards the wharf's edge. - Gary Kean

The presence of a spool of subsea cable on the Corner Brook waterfront may be smack dab in the middle of the dock, but it could be an economic generator for years to come.

There is currently around 6,000 metres of cable spooled on the turntable constructed at the site. Later this month, a ship carrying another 2,200 metres or so will drop more cable off.

The 8,200 metres of cable is the spare subsea cable left from the Strait of Belle Isle marine cable crossing project completed in late 2016 as part of the Muskrat Falls project. It will be stored in Corner Brook indefinitely and will be used only in the event repairs are needed to the nearly 30 kilometres of submarine cable stretching from Forteau on the Labrador side to Shoal Cove on the Northern Peninsula.

The Corner Brook Port Corporation has inked a long-term lease with the Labrador-Island Link Limited Partnership to accommodate the turntable at the dock.

While the infrastructure will be a source of revenue for the port for years to come, Jackie Chow said there have been plenty of shorter-term economic benefits of its presence.

Nexans, the company responsible for installing the cable under the Strait of Belle Isle and delivering the spare cable to Corner Brook, hired local contractors to build the cement pad the turntable sits on. The concrete was also sourced locally, she said, as was other equipment rented for the dock project.

Local contractors also helped build the temporary structure currently housing the turntable in anticipation of the cable set to arrive in late March and there is also a snowclearing contract associated with the structure.

According to Tim Hunt — currently the deputy project manager for the transmission link on the Lower Churchill Project but who was previously the offshore installation lead for the Strait of Belle Isle marine cable crossing — the cable will be pre-heated aboard the ship carrying it to Corner Brook.

The temporary structure, which is mainly tarp-covered frames warmed up internally by industrial-strength space heaters, is more of a safeguard than anything.

The temporary structure will be removed once the extra cable has been spooled onto the turntable.

Nexans was initially supposed to provide 8,200 metres of spare cable, but ended up having to dip into some of the extra cable. The 2,200 set to arrive in a few weeks will complete the backup amount it was required to provide.

Hunt hopes the spare cable will remain in its storage facility in Corner Brook forever and a day.

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