FNB’s eWallet now available at Pep

first_img23 January 2012First National Bank has partnered with retailer Pep to make the bank’s eWallet money transfer solution available at Pep stores across South Africa, allowing customers to use their mobile phones to shop and do their banking even if they don’t have a bank account.FNB chief executive Michael Jordaan said the partnership was a milestone for the bank in its efforts to use innovation and technology to make banking services more widely available.“With this partnership we are further extending banking services to all South Africans, with our without a bank account,” he said in a statement this week. “This will enable them to send and receive money instantly; a simple yet safe solution in providing access to financial services.”According to Jordaan, the partnership will enable the bank to extend eWallet services to some 1 200 outlets across the country.While the eWallet solution was previously available only to FNB customers, anyone with a bar-coded South African ID can now deposit, withdraw and send money, as well as make payments and purchase goods at any PEP store in the country – all this accessed via their cellphones.“We are constantly looking for ways to improve on our service and delivery channels,” said FNB eWallet Solutions CEO Yolande van Wyk. “We have seen the importance of innovation and breaking from the norm to differentiate ourselves from our peers.”Since its launch in 2009, more than 700,000 eWallets have been created, at a monthly average of 50 000 new eWallets. Over R1-billion was transferred via the service as of October 2011.Several of the bank’s corporate clients are also using the eWallet service to pay their employees’ salaries.Increase in cellphone bankingAn increasing number of consumers are taking to banking via cellphone, which allows them to make third-party payments and even buy airtime and prepaid electricity.FNB’s Cellphone Banking channel processed in excess of 25-million transactions in December 2011 with a transaction value of over R2.7-billion, compared to R1.7-billion seen in December 2010.The bank has 3.5-million cellphone banking customers, more than 70% of whom fall between the ages of 18 and 40, and earn less than R100 000 per annum.“The channel allows you the freedom and ability to bank anywhere, at any time. Anyone on any network with any cellphone can use it,” said FNB Cellphone Banking Solutions chief executive Ravesh Ramlakan. “There are no complicated downloads or special SIM requirements, and registration is free.”SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

A fun approach to science teaching

first_imgDr Mirriam Tawana believes that all children should know about South Africa’s valuable fossil collection. Zandile Ndaba says Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves have a valuable role to educate children about fossils and the origins of humankind in a fun, interactive way.(Images: Cathy Findley Public Relations)MEDIA CONTACTS• Nicolle Kairuz Cathy Findley PR+27 11 463 6372RELATED ARTICLES• No bedbugs for early humans • Fossils tell the mammal story• Maropeng top evotourism destination • Maropeng sets green standard Wilma den HartighTwo women from Wits University’s Institute for Human Evolution are inspiring a new generation of scientists in South Africa by reaching out to pupils who have not had much exposure to career opportunities in the discipline.Through the medium of story-telling, Dr Mirriam Tawana, a palaeoanthropologist and Zandile Ndaba, a fossil excavator, are bringing the world of paleoscience to life, sharing their career highlights, experiences and life stories to inspire children to be curious about science, and proud of South Africa’s fossil heritage.Tawana is part of a new group of progressive academics who believe that it is up to scientists to promote the discipline. South Africa has experienced a shortage of scientists and graduates in the field of science and technology for years.Tawana’s interest is in palaeoanthropology, a branch of palaeontology that studies the evolution of humans.“I think it’s terrible that I only first learned about palaeoanthropology when I was already in university,” she says, adding that she finds the field exciting and fun.When she enrolled at Wits University with the intent to study medicine, Tawana didn’t know that a short course in palaeontology, taught by Dr Lucinda Backwell, would grab her attention.Born in the same area where the Taung Child, a fossilised skull of a juvenile Australopithecus africanus, was discovered in 1924 by quarrymen excavating lime in Taung, a small town in the North West province.“I was instantly hooked,” she says, and immediately made arrangements to change courses.Reaching out to schoolsTawana’s experience as a student got her thinking about the predicament of many children in under- resourced schools across the country.“It is heart-breaking when I ask a child what a fossil is and they don’t know,” she says. “This motivates me to participate in outreach initiatives at schools.”All children should know about South Africa’s valuable fossil collection, says Tawana, who explains that it is one of the richest in the world, containing almost complete hominid skeletons.Tawana and Ndaba recently took their enthusiasm for palaeontology and fossils to the St Ansgar’s school in the Cradle of Humankind district.Every year the Maropeng cultural centre partners with the Cradle of Humankind Management Authority to give pupils from schools in the area an opportunity to visit the Sterkfontein Caves, the discovery site of two other world-famous fossil finds, Mrs Ples and Little Foot.The partnership came about three years ago after the authority identified a number of local schools that did not have the financial means to visit Maropeng.“What I want young boys and girls to know is that careers in palaeontology are suitable for anyone,” Tawana says.Exposing children to fossilsNdaba says Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves have a valuable role to educate children about fossils and the origins of humankind in a fun, interactive way.“How can children become interested in something they have never seen?”Dealing with mistaken beliefs about fossils and palaeontology can be a major challenge for a young person thinking about following a career in this field, says Ndaba.“When I used to return from the fossil site, my father would tell me to wash because I had been working with dead people. It took me a long time to get him to understand what it was that I was doing,” she recalls.Career highlightsFor Tawana, participating in excavations is always a highlight. “Every time I go to a site I experience a mixture of anxiety and suspense,” she says. “You never know what you are going to find.”One of Ndaba’s most memorable experiences is excavations of the Malapa site at the Cradle. Here significant parts of a skeleton, believed to be an entirely new species of hominid named Australopithecus sediba, were discovered in 2009.“While I was busy digging, I found a pelvis, one of the parts of Sediba,” she recalls. “I thought I found nothing, but I learnt that this was a very important find.” The pelvis is used to determine how ancient humans walked.“The atmosphere on site is crazy when you make a find,” says Ndaba. “There is a lot of activity with pictures being taken and filming.”Leaders in palaeontologyThe two scientists attribute their interest in palaeoanthropology to leaders in the field, such as Dr Lucinda Backwell and Prof Lee Berger.“Lee has been like a father,” Ndaba says. “He wants us all to succeed!”Tawana says Prof Phillip Tobias, who died earlier this year, also made a significant impact on her career.She recalls spending a weekend with Tobias in Taung on an outreach programme. “He was surrounded by kids, and he made time for them,” she says. “It was such an honour to know him and work with someone of his calibre. He was such a motivator.”We are fortunate to have many more people like him in this field, such as Berger and a Backwell, Tawana added.More science graduates needed in SAThere are growing concerns among various stakeholders such as the government and the academic and research fields that South Africa is not producing enough graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.According to the Paleontological Society of Southern Africa, there is a chronic shortage of qualified palaeontologists in the country, and a need to expand the industry’s limited skills base.This is why promoting this area of study is so important.A human capital development report by the National Research Foundation suggests that areas such as palaeontology, palaeoanthropology and archaeology offer special research, tourism and educational opportunities in South Africa.Tawana hopes that some of their stories will leave a lasting impression on the pupils of St Ansgar’s.“By the show of hands it was clear that few of them had intended to pursue a career in science,” she says. “Hopefully our stories and passion for the field convinced them that a career in the field can be interesting and fun.”last_img read more

Flock To Developers: We’re Using Firefox Add-Ons Now

first_imgTags:#Product Reviews#web Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting On Tuesday, Flock revealed the new version of their social browser, Flock 2.0. At the time, the company made a point to mention that most Firefox extensions would work in their browser, too, including one of our favorites, Greasemonkey. However, yesterday, Flock Community Ambassador Evan Hamilton sent out an email to all Flock developers about some changes the company had decided to make. The email made it clear that Flock had not just decided to support Firefox add-ons, they were killing all the Flock-specific add-ons, too.According to Evan’s email:Extensions.flock.com has had a bumpy history. There’s a fundamental issue here: there are very few Flock-specific extensions, and a great many Firefox extensions that are already hosted on addons.mozilla.org. The architecture behind extensions.flock.com is not mature, and we have historically been unable to devote valuable developer resources to this.  It’s unrealistic (and doesn’t make a lot of sense) to try to create our own system on the level of addons.mozilla.org until we have more Flock-specific extensions. Our admiration for the work Mozilla has done extends to addons.mozilla.org…AMO really is the best experience for getting extensions. With that in mind, we have cut the fat that is our unwieldy extensions system.Sorry Developers, We Took Down Your Flock Extensions The email goes on to inform the developers that the company had removed all the extensions from the site that are not Flock-specific – that is, any extensions that take advantage of some unique feature within the Flock browser itself. In addition, the Drupal back-end from extensions.flock.com has been removed which means no more comments or ratings on posts and no more automatic submission system. Any developer wanting to submit an extension going forward will need to email extension-submission@flock.com instead.For visitors to the Flock web site, the new extensions page will point them directly to addons.mozilla.org. sarah perez A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… According to Flock, the changes will allow the company to move forward focusing only on Flock-specific extensions, and finally, themes. As we noted earlier, customization is an important aspect to the browser experience. Something as simple as being able to skin Flock could make the transition easier for those making the switch. Flock’s Real Message: We’re Just A Version Of FirefoxWe think Flock’s decision to separate their extensions from Firefox’s extensions is a good one. Although their email promoted the idea that this just freed up time for Flock to focus on other aspects of their project, that’s probably not the whole story here. Flock wants to appeal to the social media crowd, a group that typically includes a large number of Firefox users. But in the past, Flock had set themselves too far apart from the Firefox community and gave off the impression they were really an alternative browser. Now that Flock has upgraded to the Firefox 3 codebase and lets you use nearly all the Firefox extensions, the message they’re sending is that they aren’t that different after all, they’re just a version of Firefox 3 with nifty social features. In other words, you get the best of both worlds: Firefox 3 and social media integration.Will this change in direction work and help Flock pick up some steam? It’s possible. If you can move to a new browser which works like your old one and take all your extensions with you, the experience is much less painful. Now all they need is some sort of extension import wizard and we’ll be all set. Related Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

For Brevity’s Sake: NextStop, Twitter for Activities Launches

first_imgTags:#start#startups A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… dana oshirocenter_img Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Created by former Google employees Carl Sjorgreen and Adrian Graham, privately funded San Francisco-based Nextstop launched this morning to help thrill seekers, tourists and foodies find the concise recommendations they need to plan their daily excursions. At first glance, Nextstop may appear like an amalgamation of crowd-sourced review site Yelp, Yahoo’s event site Upcoming and travel listing site Dopplr; however, the site has two major differences – recommendations are positive and can only contain a maximum of 160 characters. Nextstop hopes to remove the presence of rants and emotional weather reports from the discovery process. The company’s commitment to brevity and positive discovery ensures that recommendations stay relevant and therefore more conducive to search than some earlier review-space predecessors. In other words, Nextstop is scaling back the capabilities of user-generated content for the sake of utility. You might actually find a good Chinese restaurant on your first try. In addition to the limitation/feature of the 160 character count, Nextstop’s contributors reap the benefits of Google’s APIs as each recommendation is met with automatic address and image suggestions. And like any child of the 2.0 era, what would a recommendation site be without Facebook and Twitter and blog integration? Nextstop also sponsors community Challenges to encourage new recommendations. Challenges generally consist of top 5 lists with recommendations on everything from hot spots in Salt Lake City to vegetarian restaurants in New York. Upon completion of many of these challenges, Nextstop makes a donation to a local charity in the area of the recommendation. To complete a challenge in your city visit nextstop.com/communitychallenges.last_img read more

New App Makes iTunes Social, Publishes Music Library to Facebook

first_imgTags:#Apple#Facebook#music#Product Reviews#web Mobile media company ParkVu is today introducing a new Facebook application called Music WithMe which publishes your iTunes music library to Facebook where the tracks it contains can be shared, liked, commented on and discussed among your friends. The app, which also requires a desktop software download (currently Windows-only, Mac coming soon), connects your iTunes music library to Facebook and then continually syncs changes as you purchase and add new music. Specifically, the app publishes your top 25 most played tracks, your top rated tracks, those recently added and those recently played. After installing the desktop component, launching it and also authorizing the Facebook application (whew!), the app will display those tracks via its Facebook application at http://apps.facebook.com/musicwithme. 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People… 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… But in order for your friends to like and comment on these items, they too have to install the app. This requires the usual friend-spamming tactics most of us have put behind us as of late. (Invite your friends to try Music WithMe! Ugh.)center_img sarah perez Related Posts 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout Issues, Errors and ComplaintsThe application installation, in our tests, didn’t go as smoothly as it should have. After installing the app, it doesn’t immediately run and/or hide itself to the system tray. You actually have to go seek it out from the Start Menu and manually launch it, entering in the same username and password combination you provided the Facebook application. Even after it had started, visiting the app’s page only showed a “Runtime Error” message at first (Server Error in ‘/’ Application, it says). We’re not sure if it just needed a few minutest to get going or if it required iTunes to be launched before it could sync, but the app eventually worked. Without friend participation, however, Music WithMe is somewhat useless to the person installing it. There’s no way to, say, take a track from your own list and post it to your Facebook Wall or a friend’s Wall, alongside a message like “this song rocks rocks!”, for instance. That would be a handy feature for an app billed as a way to socialize around your iTunes music.It would also be nice if the application’s page showed which tracks were being shared the most among its users, perhaps even going so far as to allow you to like and comment on those items as well. Music WithMe is in beta at present so there’s still time for it to improve, but for now, it leaves a lot to be desired. On the other hand, music streaming site Pandora’s implementation of Facebook’s “Instantly Personalized” feature is a better alternative for socializing around music, we think. Although some – including U.S. senators and EU regulators – feel that such a feature violates Facebook users’ privacy, the end result is a better overall experience. Without having to do a thing, Facebook users who haven’t opted out of this data-sharing behavior can immediately see, upon login to Pandora.com, what music their Facebook friends like. They can also like and comment on a particular band via Facebook’s “like” button, or just comment directly on the site. Music WithMe needs to offer more features if it wants to compete with this type of seamless social interaction, especially given its somewhat cumbersome installation process. The result needs to be worth your while. Right now, we can’t say that it is. last_img read more

5+ Ways Entrepreneurs are Different from Everyone Else

first_imgSuccessful entrepreneurs are really smart. Just look at Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, guys who could get a lobotomy and still do your math homework. But intelligence is not the defining characteristic of successful entrepreneurship. Instead, the secret is a more prosaic quality: good old-fashioned stick-to-itiveness.That’s the conclusion reached by Carol Tice, author of How They Started: How 25 Good Ideas Became Great Companies. Tice says entrepreneurs are different from other folks.Not Fazed by Failure“When a normal person starts a business and it fails, they go get a job,” she explains. “Whereas an entrepreneur says, ‘That was interesting, and I learned a lot of great stuff.’ Failure doesn’t faze them. They figure out what they did wrong and what to do right the next time.”Successful startup founders are also able to figure out what they’re doing wrong while they’re doing it – and start doing something else fast.Take, Twitter, for example. It began as a podcasting platform called Odeo. But when Apple launched iTunes, CEO Evan Williams saw immediately that Odeo was DOA, so he told his 13 employees to start thinking of other ideas. A guy named Jack Dorsey developed a status-updating app called Twttr – and the rest is #history.“Great entrepreneurs think on the fly and shift on a dime,” says Tice, whose book includes case studies of tech companies including eBay, LinkedIn and Zynga, along with nontech businesses such as Chipotle, Whole Foods and Spanx. “Quite often the big thing is not the thing they set out to do originally. But they have the brilliance to recognize the big thing when it does come along.” Tags:#start#StartUp 101#startups Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Confident, Brash and CockyTo do that – abandon an idea on which you’ve hung your hopes, your dreams and your credit card balance – takes chutzpah. And this is another quality Tice noted in the people she covers in her book. “There’s a brashness and cockiness to all these entrepreneurs, even when they’re nobodies and their companies are nothing.”Trip Hawkins, the guy behind Electronic Arts – which now employs 7,600 people and made $677 million profit in 2010 – started out by reverse engineering games on the Sega platform, even though he had no permission to do so and quickly attracted the attention of Sega’s legal team. “But he played a game of brinksmanship and said, ‘I’ll do this with or without you, so why don’t you cut me an awesome deal?’ And they did,” Tice says.You need that kind of confidence to deliver on perhaps the most important characteristic of successful entrepreneurs: a willingness to devote everything they have to their ideas.“There’s a work ethic to all these great companies that’s just incredible,” Tice marvels. “They push the limits of what humans are capable of. Everybody has read The Four-Hour Workweek and they think they can press a button and make bazillions. But the part Tim Ferris left out is that you work your tail off for two or three years nonstop around the clock, you have no life, your wife divorces you, your friends leave you and then, if you’re really lucky, the thing you’re working on actually works. And then the money pours in.” tim devaney and tom stein 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Philly 360° Wrap-Up: Announcing Our 2011 Creative Ambassadors

first_imgPhilly 360° 2011 Creative Ambassadors(L. Whitaker for GPTMC) Philly 360⁰ Wrap-Up: Announcing Our 2011 Creative Ambassadors Philly’s leading trendsetters and tastemakers gathered at Tangerine for one of Philly 360⁰’s most exciting events — the event announcing the 2011 Philly 360⁰ Creative Ambassadors! Cultural influencers of all sorts were present showing their love for Philly 360⁰ and the creative ambassadors. From the legendary and GRAMMY® Award-winning DJ Jazzy Jeff, to GRAMMY® Award-nominated, multi-platinum songwriters and producers Carvin & Ivan — it was definitely a star-studded affair. Not to mention an intimate and breathtaking performance by songstress Carol Riddick. There’s nothing quite like a Philly 360⁰ celebration! Twitter was buzzing with Tweets from DJ Jazzy Jeff, Carvin & Ivan and many more about who our ambassadors are! See our full 2011 ambassador listing here. Shout out to our partners and sponsors: CBS3, The CW Philly, KYW Newsradio, Heineken USA and Stephen STARR Events!center_img Check out our photo slideshow and video!last_img read more

We need a sense of security Mud Lake residents still reeling from

first_imgJustin BrakeAPTN NewsSara Rumbolt can’t talk about the terrifying events of last spring without tearing up.Like many in the community of Mud Lake, Labrador, she believes the Muskrat Falls hydro project upstream is at least partly responsible for their brush with disaster.“We fed the kids supper, got them a bath, put them to bed, tried to act as if nothing was too bad for their sake because we didn’t want them being concerned,” Rumbolt recalls, after describing the rushing, ice-filled water that surrounded her family’s home.Rumbolt and her husband Carl began building their home a year and a half ago. Like many houses in the remote community, theirs sits along the banks of a scenic channel that winds from an upstream lake down into the mouth of the lower Churchill River.During the winter months Mud Lake is accessible by snowmobile. The rest of the year locals commute to and from Happy Valley-Goose Bay by boat.In the community’s almost 200-year existence, locals say they’ve never seen or heard of an event like the one during the early morning hours of May 17, 2017, when floodwaters stranded some in their homes and forced others to flee to neighbours’ on higher ground.“It was snowing and raining and cold,” Rumbolt recalls. “The kids…didn’t know what was going on to be woke up in the middle of the night, put in their snowsuit and be thrown in the boat in the dark.”Nearby, Jim Brown was home alone when the water subsumed his house.“The water just started coming bubbling right up through the floor and in through the doors. And in seconds, it was just like that,” he recalls.The previous day, on May 16, Mud Lake residents watched the water in their community get higher and higher, but no one expected it to breach the banks and flood their homes.Each spring ice jams up at the mouth of the Churchill River, backing up water in the channel to Mud Lake.“It got like that every spring, but it just kept on going. It didn’t stop this time,” says Marion Broomfield, who has lived in the community for more than 80 years.Mud Lake Elder Marion Broomfield says in her 80-plus years living in Mud Lake she’s never seen anything like the flood of May 2017.By nightfall many were concerned. Some went to bed; others stayed up to monitor the situation.“I didn’t know if we were going to die,” Rumbolt says, describing the moments when she put her three children in a boat to head across the channel.Their life jackets were in storage for the winter, the water was full of ice and timber, and all they had to navigate the boat was a flashlight.“I just prayed to god and kept shining the flashlight and we made it to my father-in-law’s, thank God.”Residents waited until daylight before helicopters airlifted them to safety in an emergency evacuation.Many of the 50 residents reported to Canadian Red Cross workers in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Some stayed with family. Others took up temporary shelter at the Canadian Forces Base there.A few stayed behind in Mud Lake to save their dog sled teams.A couple days later, after the river’s ice jam broke and water levels receded, residents returned to what Brown describes as a war zone.“It was just debris everywhere. Decks were out in the backyard and there was 200 gallon drums knocked up against the house,” he says.Snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, generators and other equipment crucial to Mud Lakers’ way of life were lost.With the exception of her root cellar, Broomfield’s home was spared. The community’s cemetery, where many of her family members are buried, was under water.An elder is airlifted out of Mud Lake to safety on the morning of May 17, 2017.While many homes were spared from severe damage, some like Brown will have to rebuild from scratch.Still displaced by the flood, Brown and his wife live in a government-subsidized townhouse across the river in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, awaiting spring so they can begin construction on a new home.He fought with the government over how much was needed to rebuild his home.“They gave us an offer for which was the final offer and they said that’s it, you can take it or leave it.”Days after the flood politicians, including Premier Dwight Ball and MP Yvonne Jones, began to visit the community. They promised residents assistance to rebuild their homes, and an independent review to determine whether Muskrat Falls caused the flood.That review was led by Dr. Karl-Erich Lindenschmidt, an Associate Professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Environment and Sustainability and Global Institute for Water Security.Lindenschmidt’s report concluded in October 2017 that, despite the flood coinciding with the first overwinter presence of the Muskrat Falls hydro facilities upstream, the event “cannot be attributed to the operations of the [dam’s] spillway.”Locals believe otherwise.Differing opinions on Muskrat Falls“This is the very first year the project was operational, and the very first year we have a flood,” says Melissa Best, chair of the Mud Lake committee.She said when Dr. Lindenschmidt visited Mud Lake to collect local knowledge on the river, and the behaviour of the ice and water, she was sure he would find that the hydro facilities 30 kilometres upstream played a role in the flooding.“Everybody felt so defeated because we don’t trust Nalcor, we don’t trust the government. We trust each other,” she says, recalling the day the results of the independent assessment were announced.Robert Way, a post-doctoral fellow at the Labrador Institute who studies environmental change in Labrador, grew up on the banks of the Churchill River in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.After reading Lindenschmidt’s report, he acknowledges there is “more evidence to suggest that [Muskrat Falls] didn’t influence this particular event in a strong manner,” but that the issue of how Nalcor will continue to regulate the flow of the river is “a lot muddier.”Way says the report “suggests that the magnitude of ice jams will increase in the future, and that, resultingly, ice jam flood events may increase.”He says “ice monitoring, and the impacts of it on people, have not been done to a sufficient degree since [Muskrat Falls] was initiated.”Nalcor did not make anyone from the province’s crown energy corporation available for an interview.Spokesperson Karen O’Neill told APTN that in addition to ice monitoring Nalcor has been doing to fulfill its obligations under the Muskrat Falls environmental assessment and Joint Review Panel recommendations—“the scope of [which] did not include flood forecasting,” she explains—the corporation also implemented an “ice thickness pilot study” last fall.That study, she says, includes a survey of the lower Churchill River during the freeze-up and break-up period using “ground penetrating radar” technology from a helicopter, coupled with ice core sampling.Way says he has questions about the new monitoring regime’s methodology and the extent to which Nalcor plans to share the information with the public, including the people of Mud Lake.“That type of survey can be useful in some regards, but it still is not what is needed necessarily in order to be able to predict these events,” he says.“Considering the role this project will play in impacting ice downstream, and the importance of ice conditions, not just for flooding but on community travel and traditional activities, I don’t think it’s enough to just say we’re going to measure at two times of the year…and then hopefully be able to predict whether flooding is going to occur.“Unless they’re planning to be doing these surveys continually throughout the winter, then we really don’t have an indication of how robust this type of program would be.”Responding to the independent report, last month the province announced it was installing new water level and climate monitoring stations “to monitor water and ice levels and use the data for flood forecasting and alerts.” They have also made the data available online, though at the time of publication the ice thickness data had not been updated for a month.On May 17 floodwaters inundated the community of Mud Lake, destroying homes, snowmobiles and ATVs. Residents believe Muskrat Falls played a role in the unprecedented event.Way says the government’s efforts are “certainly useful,” but that “unless this is combined with more monitoring and modelling it won’t be as useful as needed.”In late February Nalcor officials met with representatives of Mud Lake. Best requested that APTN attend the meeting, but Nalcor refused.Best said Nalcor offered to pay for a consultant to devise an emergency evacuation plan for the community.Way said the independent assessment of the flood identified three reasons why Muskrat Falls could contribute to flooding in the future, including an increase of the amount of ice that is projected to flow downstream, a change in the freeze-up and thawing periods due to the thermal effects of the dam’s reservoir, and changes in the amount of water released from the reservoir.“Out of the three factors, two of them I think going forward, there’s nothing that they can do to change them so they’re going to have to figure out mitigation measures. And the third one, if they have a good monitoring program in place they should be able to I guess reasonably reduce that impact,” he says.“But the challenge is, they don’t have a huge amount of storage at Muskrat Falls — it’s the Upper Churchill [dam] that has the big storage — so if Upper Churchill decides to release a lot of water, they can’t really hold back a lot of water at Muskrat.“So ultimately, in order to consider flood management on this entire river, you have to be not just considering Muskrat but considering Churchill as well.”The North Spur: a bigger concernAs they await the spring thaw in the coming weeks and months, Mud Lakers are also fighting another battle with Nalcor and the province, over what they believe is an unstable part of the dam.The North Spur is a peninsula that juts out into the Churchill River, connecting the rest of the land with Spirit Mountain, a sacred place for the Innu. The Spur is comprised primarily of sand and marine clay, or “quick clay,” a substance that can liquefy when exposed to water.During early stages of construction for the dam Nalcor unearthed tens of thousands of Innu artifacts in the area dating back thousands of years, exposing pieces of a rich and ancient history of the First Peoples who inhabit the area.Elders, engineers independent of the project and many residents in the area believe the North Spur will not be able to permanently hold back the water once the dam’s reservoir is fully flooded in 2019.“We know that the next [flood] is coming,” says Best, explaining many have been asking Nalcor to present evidence that lives are not being put at risk.Nalcor has continually downplayed concerns around the instability of the North Spur, saying they’ve stabilized the area — but locals are skeptical.Randy MacMillan is a Mechanic Engineering Technologist and was one of the drillers who collected core samples on the North Spur in 2013.“It’s just a typical job that you would do for any customer. In this particular instance though it was an anomaly to me because we never ever once hit bedrock,” MacMillan recalls of the work he did.“Every 40 feet there would be some clay, water, clay, water — kinda like a cake.”He says he’s “adamant” that people’s lives downstream “are in jeopardy.”Renowned retired Swedish engineer Dr. Stig Bernander, who has no affiliation with Muskrat Falls other than a personal interest in the project due to its construction atop glacial marine clays, also has grave concerns for the dam.Bernander visited the Muskrat Falls site in 2013 and has since authored a number of papers that identify what he says are flaws in Nalcor and engineering firm SNC-Lavalin’s assessment of the North Spur.He fears that if the proper assessments aren’t done and adequate mitigation measures aren’t put in place, a landslide on the North Spur could trigger a dam breach.Nalcor has commissioned its own reviews of the North Spur, which concluded the area is sufficiently stabilized.But David Vardy, an economist, retired public servant and former chair of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Public Utilities Board, says Nalcor isn’t taking Bernander’s work seriously and needs to agree to an independent review.“They don’t agree with the Swedish scientists, but they haven’t told us whether the science that’s been done is sufficient,” he tells APTN.Vardy says he suspects Nalcor and the provincial government may have reasons for being reluctant to commission an independent review of the North Spur.“If you look too hard you may find an unsolvable problem which might end up with closing down the project.”Health impactsBest says the fear and anxiety of not knowing whether, or when, Mud Lake will flood again, and to what extent, is having an impact on residents’ health.“We’ve had people that’s been hospitalized — it was their hearts, finding out it was stress-related,” she says, explaining “people are waking up in the middle of the night and just checking that the water’s not too high.”Brown says his wife had a heart attack in January and was hospitalized for a month.She attributes the stress her doctor said led to the heart attack to Muskrat Falls and the flooding of Mud Lake.Brown’s wife is an Indigenous woman and works for the provincial government. Brown says she was told she can’t speak publicly against Muskrat Falls.“The doctors say it was definitely a stress-related heart attack, and she has been stressed out,” he explains.“She’s got to slow down and not get so stressed — try to think of something else. Her heart is damaged — they say it gets damaged each time you have something like that happen to it, right.”Brown says in addition to the flood, the North Spur is “definitely another stressful factor in people’s lives,” and that he “can’t see why [Nalcor] just can’t come out and tell you what’s going on,” adding the province has a responsibility to do the same.“We don’t want fear to rule us, but we can’t help it,” says Best, explaining how residents are coping with the stress while continuing to push for an independent study of the Spur.“I pretend like it don’t bother me. I don’t want to give anyone the power that I’m living in fear. And it’s not so much living in fear as it’s living in knowing what’s going to happen next.”Best recalls the night of May 16, when the water levels rose high enough that ice was banging up against a steel bridge in the community.She says she could hear it from her home, and that it was eerie.“I don’t believe in any huge powers or anything, but I think that was a warning. And everybody senses that.“We need a sense of security brought back to our community. We need to be secure in our homes; everybody is entitled to be safe in their own homes.”jbrake@aptn.calast_img read more