News

1. Death at a Nova Scotia Power dam

Andrew and Nicole Gnazdowsky

“A Halifax woman feels like she was forced to investigate her brother’s workplace death herself after the provincial department responsible ‘botched’ the case,” reports Zane Woodford:

Andrew Gnazdowsky died at Nova Scotia Power’s Marshall Falls reservoir in Sheet Harbour in October 2020. An engineer, Gnazdowsky was on the site working for a New Brunswick company that was subcontracted to survey under water near a dam.

A piece of the company’s equipment malfunctioned, so he swam out into the water to fix it. What happened next, Nicole Gnazdowsky, Andrew’s sister, isn’t quite sure.

“I feel like I have a sense, a good sense of what happened. But I think there’s still probably some holes in the story, and whether those will ever get filled I don’t know,” Gnazdowsky told the Halifax Examiner.

Andrew drowned. His body wasn’t retrieved until the next day.

Since then, Gnazdowsky has fought for answers, digging into the case herself, and shaping a Department of Labour investigation she’s revealed to be incredibly flawed

As I was reading this article, I was thinking I hope that should I die some horrible death, I have an advocate like Nicole Gnazdowsky.

But none of us should need that extra push from loved ones to get the system to respond appropriately; attention to detail, care for the truth, and compassion should be built into the system from the start.

With workplace deaths, it’s too easy to move on, to see the family of the deceased as merely traumatized, and therefore irrational. And that’s how Nicole Gnazdowsky understands her interaction with Duff Montgomerie, the deputy minister of the Department of Labour and Advanced Education:

“He came into the room and knew not a single detail about my brother’s case, like didn’t even know the date,” Gnazdowsky said of Montgomerie.

“He sat cross-legged leaned back in his chair, arms crossed with a smirk on his face the entire conversation as I’m pleading for him and his senior officials to do something about the people who work below them who have allowed this investigation to get to the point that it requires me to be involved.”

After the meeting, Gnazdowsky emailed Montgomerie to express her dissatisfaction. He replied with an attached PDF on dealing with the grieving process.

And this isn’t just about Andrew Gnazdowsky — his life, his death, the quest for answers. Nicole Gnazdowsky is right: an understanding of her brother’s death may protect others from the same fate, as something similar has happened before:

…there was an error in the autopsy report. It said Andrew died on Oct. 17, the day he was pulled from the water, not Oct. 16, the day he drowned.

That’s important to the investigation for the other reason Gnazdowsky surmises her brother could’ve gone under water: the dam was closed off on the 17th, but not the 16th.

Reading about another case of a worker dying at a Nova Scotia Power dam, Gnazdowsky learned about the effect known to divers as Delta P — differential pressure. Luke Seabrook, a 39-year-old man from Dartmouth, died at a Nova Scotia Power dam in Annapolis Royal in 2015. A gate in the dam was left open and it sucked Seabrook in.

Gnazdowsky believes something similar could’ve happened in her brother’s case, but she still doesn’t know.

Following “a rather unpleasant conversation” with the medical examiner’s office, Gnazdowsky convinced them to amend the autopsy report, fixing the issues, within 24 hours of her addressing them.

Click here to read “Halifax woman says province ‘botched’ investigation into her brother’s workplace death.”

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2. The Fisheries Act doesn’t consider climate change

Atlantic cod, NOAA

“A new report on how and why climate change should be incorporated into fisheries management in Atlantic Canada and the Eastern Arctic begins with an ominous passage that serves as a stark reminder of just how tragically wrong we humans can be about the limits of the natural bounty on this planet,” reports Joan Baxter:

The report was  prepared for Oceans North by Daniel Boyce of the Ocean Frontier Institute at Dalhousie University.

It goes like this:

In 1883, T.H. Huxley famously stated, “I believe, then, that the cod fishery … and probably all the great sea fisheries are inexhaustible: that is to say that nothing we do seriously affects the number of fish. And any attempt to regulate these fisheries seems …to be useless.”

Of course since Huxley’s time, according to the report, “our understanding of how humans and fishing affect marine populations has changed considerably, as has our approach to their management and conservation.”

But, as the report documents, that still hasn’t served the fish in our oceans very well.

As surprising as it may seem, Canada’s revamped Fisheries Act, which came into force in 2019, doesn’t even contain the term “climate change.”

Click here to read “Report: Canada’s “critically depleted” fish stocks are further threatened because the Fisheries Act doesn’t address climate change.”

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3. John Risley and aquaculture industry

Sea lice on juvenile salmon. Photo: Tavish Campbell

It was interesting to see John Risley come out against salmon farming in an editorial in Atlantic Business magazine:

Though escapes have decreased over the years, salmon farms are still unable to fully prevent caged fish from escaping. This is usually a function of severe weather events but can also occur because of human error and poor cage integrity. We now know, for a scientific fact, these fish often in-breed with their wild cousins, thereby exposing them to diseases previously unknown to the species, reducing their fitness and productivity strength. Ultimately, this can lead to the extinction — yes, the extinction — of wild salmon in river systems proximate to aquaculture activity. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has acknowledged that Newfoundland’s Conne River, which once supported a run of 10,000 fish a year and is now down to 200, is a prime candidate for local extinction.

I had hoped that Risley would’ve linked to Joan Baxter’s recent piece about the effects of fish farms and sea lice on wild salmon, but maybe Risley doesn’t have the Examiner bookmarked.

Unsurprisingly, there’s been considerable push-back from the aquaculture industry.

There are undoubtedly other agendas playing out in this battle, but it’s good to sea Risley using his clout to protect the wild salmon runs.

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4. COVID-19

The daily new case counts and 7-day rolling average since March 28, the last day of zero new cases in Nova Scotia.

Maybe we’ve turned a corner on the current outbreak of COVID-19? At least, there’s some indication that the outbreak has peaked (see chart above), and if the restrictions imposed about two weeks ago have their intended effect, we should see declining case numbers in days to come.

It’s especially disheartening that the outbreak comes just as the vaccination program is hitting its stride — had we been able to keep the virus at bay for just another month, we could’ve avoided the additional sickness and death, and the tightened restrictions. But here we are.

I’ll be better tracking the vaccine deployment in coming days, but I have produced a pie chart showing our current situation:

First and second doses administered as a percentage of Nova Scotia’s total population.

Premier Iain Rankin and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang have scheduled a COVID briefing for 1pm today. I’ll be live-tweeting it on my Twitter account.

5. The rocket that won’t

They made a pretty picture of a rocket in space, so everyone in Nova Scotia thought it must be real.

I’ll give Maritime Launch Services this: it knows how to work the press.

Wednesday morning, the company issued a press release saying it had landed — the exact word is “closed” — $10.5 million in financing from PowerOne Capital Markets Limited and Primary Capital Inc., and according to the press release, that financing will “enable MLS to achieve first flight heritage in 2022 of a small class launcher and mature the site and the Cyclone 4M medium class launch vehicle for launch in 2023 from its state-of-the-art complex near Canso, Nova Scotia.”

And so Wednesday afternoon, the CBC dutifully re-reported the press release with an email exchange with MLS president Steve Matier and some caveats at the end of the article about regulatory hurdles still to clear. The take-away, however, is high in the article:

The company said in a news release Tuesday the money will help it achieve its first flight of a small-class launcher next year. The first Cyclone 4M medium-class launch vehicle would take off in 2023, according to the news release.

Huh, rockets are coming, eh? Well, maybe. But let’s consider… is $10.5 million a lot of money? I joked yesterday that I doubt you could open an Arby’s for $10.5 million — it’s actually closer to $2 million — but what does it cost to launch a satellite into space, anyway?

According to a satellite phone company:

Another factor that contributes to the expense associated with satellites is the cost of putting one into orbit. It is estimated that a single satellite launch can range in cost from a low of about $50 million to a high of about $400 million.

What someone will pay to launch a satellite and what it costs to build the infrastructure that hosts the launch are two different things.

But you could probably cut the launch costs considerably if you used duct tape and bailing wire to piece together Cold War-era rocket parts you bought on the dark web from a Ukrainian oligarch, got some iffy fuel from a guy in the alley behind the strip club, and ran the operation through a lax regulatory jurisdiction with a weak currency. So maybe you could offer up your launch service for something like $20 million per.

The question, though, is: Would any legitimate communications company seriously consider the offer? Putting a $100 million piece of equipment atop that rickety contraption, crossing your fingers, and hoping that it doesn’t blow up on the launch pad or careen off into the Outer Hebrides doesn’t strike me as the best business growth strategy, but wtfdik?

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Government

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Kitchen Poets and Sister Griots: Storytelling in the work of Edwidge Danticat (Friday, 12:30pm) — Susana Morris from the Georgia Institute of Technology will talk.

Daughters of Immigrants Creative Showcase (Friday, 6:30pm) — featuring a short film by Kourtney Jackson, a poetry reading by Doretta Lau, a film and talk by V. T. Nayani, and a musical performance by Falana.


In the harbour

Halifax
10:30: Don Pasquale, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Zeebrugge, Belgium
11:30: Pictor, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
16:15: Don Pasquale sails for sea
16:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
16:45: Pictor sails for Portland
18:00: X-press Irazu, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea

Cape Breton
16:00: Radcliffe R. Latimer, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove Quarry for sea


Footnotes

We don’t get much; go enjoy the sun.

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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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5 Comments

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  1. It’s very nice that Mr. Risley has come out on the right side of Salmon conservation and on the side of the latest scientific evidence and advice.
    I’d also like to see him use his wealth and connections to run the open pen fish farming industry out of business in the Maritimes with some strategic investments in land based aquaculture companies.

  2. Terrible story about the investigation into the death of Andrew Gnazdowsky. His sister is doing the whole province a service in exposing how subpar the Dept. of Labour is investigating these things. Time to put
    some pressure on the politicians to weed out the dead wood.

    And “sea Risely” – cute.

  3. “After the meeting, Gnazdowsky emailed Montgomerie to express her dissatisfaction. He replied with an attached PDF on dealing with the grieving process.”

    Just awful. Can’t imagine how that could be any more unhelpful or patronizing.

  4. Maybe we should stick with what we know, like building giant fiberglass effigies of things in the hopes that tourist money will show up. We can build a giant fiberglass rocket and buy the giant lobster from Shediac to ride it Dr. Strangelove style.