BC Hydro’s Chris O’Riley may be new to the CEO’s chair, but he’s not new to the management of Site C. So, it is astounding that his letter to BCUC this week included a particular statement in admitting the project’s budget and construction schedule are askew. O’Riley indicated that another $600 million has been added to the dam’s estimated cost. He said:
BC Hydro has encountered some geotechnical and construction challenges on the project and the risk to the river diversion timeline has now materialized…
We can only wonder why the admission came more than two months after the John Horgan Government tasked BCUC with a quick review of Site C. It comes two weeks after the regulator issued a preliminary report, which, according to Desmogblog writer Judith Lavoie:
…underlined the extent of missing and out-dated information and pointed out unknowns surrounding the largest and most expensive infrastructure project in B.C.
Soil instability on Peace River embankments has plagued the area forever. The only thing changed now is the level of scrutiny by people who aim to inform the people of BC, even while BC Hydro downplayed its troubles.
This crown corporation has an appalling record when it comes to accurate and timely disclosure of information. I’ve noted here before that the previous CEO had to apologize for the company being untruthful in a submission to BCUC. Additionally, I’ve noted that it broke provincial statutes by failing to release its first quarter financial report by September 15. That information is still withheld.
That site instability is leading to huge cost overruns comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed Site C issues. The following was first published in February 2017:
To enhance the reading experience, a little musical accompaniment is provided with new pictures from the Peace River construction site of Site C.
Cracking seems to have grown worse on the unstable slopes above the river.
This photograph shows a partly built bridge to Eagle Island.
Damien Gillis produced a video about this site in the summer of 2015:
The balance of this item was published here February 17:
“Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste.”
We know the Premier vowed to get Site C dam past the “point of no return” before the May 2017 provincial election. Clark’s Liberals have their own reasons for Site C haste and these eventually will be revealed, perhaps by a postmortem report of an inquiry into the economic destruction of BC Hydro.
However, we do know that incautiously pushing a project forward can be costly. Unfortunately, the cost of error will fall not on decision makers but on taxpayers not wealthy enough to hide their income elsewhere.
This is from a report prepared in 2012 by BGC Engineering Inc. for BC Hydro’s Site C Unneeded Energy Project:
Much of the proposed reservoir shoreline is flanked by steep valley walls underlain by fine textured material composed of glaciolacustrine sands, silts and clays, silty colluvium, or shale bedrock. Most of these slopes have been mapped as unstable (Class V) or potentially unstable (Class IV)…
Areas mapped as slope stability class IV or V have a moderate to high (30-100%) likelihood of slope failures following disturbance…
Don Hoffmann provides evidence of slope failure in the form of photographs he took recently near the Peace River, site of Site C dam construction:
Thanks to Don Hoffmann for permitting these photographs to be published at In-Sights. All other rights reserved by Mr. Hoffmann.