The primary area of focus was the main civil works — the dam structure, powerhouse and spillways — according to the documents. A list of the meeting attendees is redacted, but the documents show a de-briefing was conducted with BC Hydro executives and project assurance board members on May 31, 2019. “Since there are earthquakes in this part of the world, this is a very important issue.”. care homes dated 2 days before election, Protesters show support for farmers in India. “Such measure has positive precedent but meets with difficulties imposed by the geological and geotechnical conditions prevailing at Site C…” the board noted. McCullough’s report, commissioned by the Peace Valley Landowner Association, said the dam will conservatively cost an additional $2.1 billion and ratepayers will save an initial $116 million a year if the project is scrapped and the same amount of energy is procured from other sources. Find out yourself with a weekly dose of our ad‑free, independent journalism. paint a picture of a project rife with growing geotechnical issues and risks as well as safety and quality concerns — and facing a rising risk of cost overruns and schedule delays — long before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the province and temporarily scaled back the Site C dam workforce in mid-March. Harry Swain, who chaired the joint review panel that examined the Site C project for the federal and provincial governments, said it is “anomalous” that project assurance board reports have been kept secret by the B.C. civil servants, including the senior bureaucrat who prepares. energy consultant and the author of a pro-Site C report for B.C. Further construction of the dam across the Peace River near Fort St. John requires diversion of the waterway, which the letter argues could be a "costly and potentially catastrophic mistake.". In the letter, the group also says a panel should look at all construction costs so far, as well as the final price to complete the megaproject. The truth is we wouldn’t be here without you. The documents showed that several BC Hydro dam safety officials and engineers knew of weak bedrock underlying the Peace Canyon dam upstream of the Site C project, and that the dam’s less than desirable foundation of shale “rock” made the dam vulnerable to damage by earthquakes triggered by nearby natural gas company fracking and disposal well operations. Yet British Columbians — the owners of the publicly funded dam on the Peace River — didn’t learn about the project’s escalating troubles for more than a year, until Energy Minister Bruce Ralston held a brief press conference on July 31, the same day BC Hydro released overdue Site C dam reports. The technical advisory board found the stability of the dam is “a significant risk and the hazards associated with the weak foundation have been adequately recognized.”. But by Sept. 1, 2019, according to the documents, the entire contingency fund had been spent, with five years of construction still ahead. In making the announcement, Premier John Horgan stated that while Site C should never have been started, the project has been pushed past the point of no return over the past few years. On Sept. 1, 2019, for instance, nearly one year before the public learned of significant problems and a soaring price tag for the Site C dam, BC Hydro submitted a weekly status report to the assurance board listing the overall health and cost of the dam’s main civil works as “red,” meaning the civil works — the dam structure, generating station and spillways — were in deep trouble. Its projected construction costs have ballooned from an initially estimated $6.6 billion to $12 billion. Board members include three other BC Hydro directors, Concert Properties CEO David Podmore and Lorne Sivertson, an energy consultant and the author of a pro-Site C report for B.C. Site C opponents say a new photograph of the contentious dam site is evidence of continued geotechnical problems and cracks causing headaches for builders of the $9-billion project, but BC Hydro says their concerns are simply remnants of routine excavation and construction. “They [Crown corporations] are in the same camp of misrepresenting their costs to the public and misrepresenting to the public what’s going to happen at the end of the day. Reward offered in B.C. The Site C project is located in a geographical area filled with faults that can become critically stressed during fracking operations, which are poised to expand significantly in the region to supply gas for the LNG Canada export project. Swain said the safety review should follow investigations by independent geotechnical engineering experts. Ralston announced in July that the government has appointed Peter Milburn. Not only are we filling a void in environment coverage, but we’re also telling stories differently — by centring Indigenous voices, by building community and by doing it all as a people-powered, non-profit outlet supported by more than 2,200 members. In 2017 and 2018, more than 10,000 earthquakes occurred in the wider area, including one that shook the Site C dam construction site in November 2018, forcing workers to evacuate. It is a Shaftbury shale which was mud some 70 million years ago. Those signing the letter urge Premier John Horgan to appoint an independent panel to assess geotechnical issues at Site C and to release those findings before making a decision about the future of the dam. In August 2019, according to records obtained by The Narwhal through a separate freedom of information request, the company’s subsidiary AECOM Technical Services also received a $132,000 Site C dam contract to provide an “independent construction advisor” for the project. The advisory board also said the Site C dam’s design — changed to an unconventional L-shape, much to the concern of retired BC Hydro engineer Vern Ruskin — needed to be checked. Harry Swain chaired the panel that reviewed the Site C dam on behalf of the provincial and federal governments. It also found that BC Hydro had a historical pattern of, For David Vardy, the retired chair of Newfoundland’s public utilities board, the Site C project’s lack of transparency and escalating costs create a sense of. We know that these days the world’s problems can feel a *touch* overwhelming. of retired BC Hydro engineer Vern Ruskin — needed to be checked. Now its $12-billion budget threatens to become a $15 billion to $20-billion mega-fiasco due to serious geotechnical problems. Photo: Jayce Hawkins / The Narwhal. Sept. 12, 2019, nearly one year before the public learned of the project’s rising price tag. Key parts of Summy’s conclusions are redacted from the documents. An “intelligence memo” from the C.D. government officials knew in May 2019 that the Site c dam faced geotechnical problems due to its “weak foundation,” according to documents obtained by The Narwhal. Swain said the safety review should follow investigations by independent geotechnical engineering experts. The technical advisory board also flagged the earthfill dam foundation and grouting as a significant risk. will flood 128 kilometres of the Peace River and its tributaries, putting Indigenous burial sites and traditional hunting and trapping grounds, some of Canada’s best farmland and habitat for more than 100 species at risk of extinction under up to 50 metres of water. Also on the Site C project assurance board is Joe Ehasz, the California-based program manager for AECOM Energy & Construction, a company that had received $225,000 in Site C dam contracts by May 2017. The utility could not immediately be reached for comment. Harry Swain, who chaired the joint review panel that examined the Site C project for the federal and provincial governments, said it is “. “If anything, it almost appears in some respects that Site C oversight is not as good as what we’ve had here.”, Vardy said it would have made “all the difference in the world” if ratepayers in both provinces had been apprised of rising costs earlier. Oct 15, 2020. The advisory board also said the Site C dam’s design — changed to an unconventional L-shape. Cracks in the roller compacted concrete have “been. Use of this Website assumes acceptance of Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy, Published Monday, September 28, 2020 10:54AM PDT, Premier to speak at 1 p.m. about B.C. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2020. An inquiry into the $12.7 billion Muskrat Falls project examined why the provincial government didn’t cancel the uneconomic project when there was still time. It’s bad public policy because you don’t have transparency.”. It appears that they may not have.”. The documents show MacLaren and Wanamaker were privy to a January 2018 report from the project’s technical advisory board that described construction schedules as “aspirational” and identified geotechnical stability issues as a risk that could further impede progress building the dam. Photo: Jayce Hawkins. He described it as “pretty much an emanation of BC Hydro, with a few additions.”, “That is a management board,” he said. That makes you some serious Narwhal material. Sarah Cox is an award-winning author and journalist based in Victoria, B.C. Open letter urges B.C. “They swell and shrink. Following an appeal to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner after BC Hydro missed a legal deadline for responding, we received 2,247 pages of documents almost seven months after filing the request. According to documents on BC Hydro’s website, the project assurance board is at the centre of Site C dam communications among BC Hydro’s board of directors, the energy ministry, and treasury board and/or the finance ministry. government until now and key information is still being withheld. In late January, The Narwhal submitted a freedom of information request to BC Hydro, asking for all Site C project assurance board. But the NDP government subsequently refused to release any of the board’s findings or a list of its members. (BC Hydro) The independent commission found the Site C dam’s final price tag could exceed $12 billion and the same amount of energy could be produced by a suite of renewables, including wind, for $8.8 billion or less. McCullough said Milburn’s appointment underscores the problem of “who guards the guards.”, “Normally, in a construction project, you want as clean a chain of command as possible,” he said. A former president of BC Hydro and a former federal fisheries minister are among 18 prominent Canadians urging the provincial government to halt work on a huge hydroelectric project in northeastern B.C. The core components of the dam are now in question due to the lack of, solid ground on which to anchor the dam structure, powerhouse and spillways —. BC Hydro also warned of the “likely” risk of additional engineering costs. It's estimated the dam could cost $12 billion, almost double the original estimate, and the letter warns geotechnical issues "will add immeasurably to the project's ballooning costs.". The Site C Dam location is seen along the Peace River in Fort St. John, B.C., Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Site C dam construction on the Peace River. Scrapping B.C.’s Site C dam could lead to $116 million in savings every year: energy economist. Letter calls for B.C. If you believe news organizations should report to their readers, not advertisers or shareholders, please become a monthly member of The Narwhal today for any amount you can afford. "BC Hydro has been working hard to make sure that we get the project in place as quickly as possible in a cost-effective way," he added. over concerns of fast spread, What's next for B.C. The documents show the Site C project had spent $3.5 billion of its budget by March 31, 2019. since the board began meeting in January 2018, using weekly information from BC Hydro to review expenditures and progress on the dam. The independent commission found the Site C dam’s final price tag could exceed $12 billion and the same amount of energy could be produced by a suite of renewables, including wind, for $8.8 billion or less. Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner after BC Hydro missed a legal deadline for responding, we received 2,247 pages of documents almost seven months after filing the request. 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