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Wall defends silence on Boundary Dam shortcomings

REGINA – At several points over the past year, including media interviews and SaskPower press releases, the province’s $1.5-billion carbon capture facility has been touted as “exceeding expectations.”

Internal memos leaked to the Opposition NDP and made public over the past few days have proved otherwise, saying Boundary Dam is running less than half the time and costing taxpayers millions in penalties and revenue shortfalls.

SaskPower now admits the plant near Estevan is capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) at a rate of 90 per cent – when it’s actually switched on. Because of mechanical issues, the facility has only operated 45 per cent of the time.

READ MORE: Questions over ‘spin’ of SaskPower’s early carbon capture failures

However, Premier Brad Wall stands behind the messaging that boasts of success, particularly his own tweet sent the day prior to the October 2, 2014, launch calling the plant “fully operational.”

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SaskPower CEO Mike Marsh admitted again Wednesday, “the best (volume) we’ve achieved in any given day has been 80 per cent.”

At one point, Wall told reporters the plant had run at full capacity for longer than one day.

When asked later why he made his comment, knowing the facility had not even run at full speed for 24 hours, Wall said he was referring to a single moment in time.

“That’s the definition of the communications of Twitter … that’s the information that I have and that’s the information I’m going to provide.”

“We talked about this thing achieving its objectives,” the premier said, pointing to the 90 per cent capture rate as the reason for the project. “That’s what the technology achieved at start-up. That’s what it achieved every time it was restarted.”

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Wall claims he first learned of design flaws a month or two prior to the originally-scheduled April 2014 launch of the facility, but says he only learned in recent days of specific targets not being met.