BC Hydro

Unattractive risk

Every young person is taught that willingness to fail is empowering and roads to success are built atop failures. Such precepts are generally true but it is also accurate to say death-dealing disasters are usually reckless failures from which nothing good comes.

Italian engineers were incautious when they chose to build a dam where the slopes of Monte Toc were unstable. Two thousand people died in the disaster that followed.

The slopes of Mount Toc, 100 km north of Venice, were not solid rock. Small landslides were routine. During construction of the Vajont Dam, independent experts and local citizens warned about landslides and fractures but were ignored by the utility company and the Italian government.

Site C will not rest on solid rock. Small landslides are routine in the Peace River valley. Unstable lands have already caused unexpected design revisions and an extended scope of work and serious budgetary effects.

Even though cost of power generated by wind and solar and costs of energy storage have been dropping steadily for years, BC Hydro committed to a new dam on the Peace River because it has been in their plans for decades. Old style utilities are like supertankers; they don’t change course easily.

According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Energy, with prices averaging below 2 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for newly built projects, wind is competitive with all other generation sources. Europe has proven that wind power can be integrated into national grids without material disruption.

We can live with Site C not being the least cost route to acquiring new electrical capacity. Even if it were abandoned tomorrow, BC Hydro would take a smaller hit that the one imposed by Campbell Liberals when they opened the utility’s vault to private power producers.

But Site C will affect the lives and livelihoods of many area residents in other ways. By John Horgan’s words, it offends constitutionally protected rights of indigenous people, something that may cost a billion dollars in damages.

Wasting $12 billion on a dam that may never produce electricity would only cost each BC resident $2,500. The cost would be far higher, in money and lives, if we experience catastrophic failure as did the people of northeast Italy.

Every member of the BC Legislature ought to watch this video:

Expecting A Disaster: The 1963 Landslide of the Vajont Dam, Forbes Magazine:

Filling of the reservoir began in February 1960… Soon afterward, first fissures were noted on the slopes of Mount Toc and November 4, with the lake 180 meters deep, a landslide with 700.000 cubic meters occurred.

Alarmed, technicians decided to slightly reduce the rate the reservoir was filled. …By mid-July, the depth was 240 meters, another slight increase in movements was noted. In early September the depth of the lake was 245 meters and the movements had accelerated until 3.5 centimeters per day.

…the slope continued to move, reaching more than 20 centimeters per day, enough to open large fissures along the slopes of Mt. Toc.

October 9, 1963, the entire slope of Mt. Toc collapsed. …The wave generated by the impact of the landslide traveled 140 meters up on the opposite shore, reaching some buildings of the village of Erto. …The landslide pushed part of the water out of the lake, producing a wave with a maximal height of 230-240 meters.

A 100 to 150 meters high wave rushed into the gorge of the Vajont, in direction of the larger and inhabited Piave valley. There the wave destroyed the villages of Longarone, Pirago, Villanova, Rivalta and Fae, and in less than 15 minutes more than 2,000 people were killed.

Categories: BC Hydro, Site C

4 replies »

  1. Wen this happens in B.C. we will find out the B.C. Lieberals and NDP have a lot in common, their actions will have killed people, for no reason.

    This dam is not a great idea. We’d have been better off just staying with the dams we had and perhaps increasing whatever we could with them. Now it may be said the dam was beyond the point of no return, but I’ve never agreed with that. No dam is beyond the point of no return, just blow up what’s there, fill in the rest and let nature take its course. Yes, we’ll loose some money, but we do have the IPP mess and the half billion el gordo and Christie used to take out of B.C. Hydro and ICBC.

    The workers who are employed there can easily find work in their home towns these days, especially if the provincial government has them hired for building new schools, hospitals, highway construction, etc. that will enable workers to be closer to home. for those who live in the area, most of them need new community centers and local colleges, not to mention some additional roads. They could even offer some of the workers 4 yrs of university if they wanted with a continuation of their current salaries. Its not like the province doesn’t have a shortage of teachers and health care workers.

    if the NDP cancelled Site C now, for fear of slides and had a follow up plan for the workers, they can still blane Christie and not loose votes.

    Having power generating done so far from where the majority of people live does not provide us with secure power. Bringing it closer to home, we could have solar and wind, not to mention some fabulous incinerator, with few immision and burn all the garbage we have. They can get the technology from Germany I’m sure.


  2. Maybe Horgan is hoping the dam will collapse under an earthquake. The Federal government’s SNC-Lavalin engineers will be needed to rebuild Fort St John, Taylor and Chetwynn, hydro towers and highways. Unions will delight at the twenty year contract.The Chinese turbines will become scrap and will be sent back to China. Release of the Chinese Hawaie Cell phone lady will be part of the bargain.

    First Nations will be given “the right to reclaim their washed-away agricultural land” as if it were a gift (that was stolen from them.)
    Justin Trudeau will pledge billions for the rebuilding of Site C “to become Site D” (there are still twenty three letters in the alphabet) if Horgan will accept the conditions of the Trans Mountain pipeline. BC coal will be rerouted to Alberta so that they can compress our fractured methane gas and pipe it to a Kitimat LNG terminal.
    The dirty Trans Mountain oil “bitumen” will flow to the westcoast or Arctic if only Russia and China can get the Northwest passage to hurry up and melt due to rising global temperatures.
    The cheap dirty oil will aid the economy of the Chinese Communist regime as they now plan to take over Taiwan and Hong Kong to become the world’s super power. The Chinese Military bases built on the manmade islands will be overtaken by sea level rise.

    Trump will be best-friends-forever with Xi, Kim Jong Un and Putin and none will show their tax returns. Thank God that Earth will soon get its revenge. These guys will all burn in hell.
    Perhaps Horgan’s Uber taxis will be powered by windmills and solar energy if Site C sinks like Atlantis.
    We know that no politicians will make it to Heaven. The questions is, Does Hell run on oil or natural gas?


  3. I learned many years ago.
    Never, ever , ever tell a structural engineer something cant be done………

    Christy Clark knew if she got the financing ( not the Dam) to the “point of no return” it would be impossible to stop.
    OUR tax dollars at work
    Did Horgan really want to be the Premier that walked away from 4 billion invested dollars?
    Spend hundreds of millions to demolish the Dam and the infrastructure?
    Not to mention paying hundreds of millions more in penalty fees to SNC , etc.?
    When this Dam fails as most people with half a brain expect….
    Whether its from the geological instability or fracking earthquakes.
    A Royal commission should dig ( pun intended) deep into WHAT warnings the Clark govt had about building in this area and WHEN they were informed.
    And if it is found that they ignored these warnings and still built it…..
    Decades in jail wouldnt be out of the question for all involved in the decision making process.
    The idea that our tax dollars can be spent on such a ruinous scale and such a massive environmental decision can be made by politicians behind closed doors.with the money ultimately going to lobbyists that helped with their campaigns…….is an absolutely disgusting, corrupting example of all that is wrong with our democracy ……and it needs to be legislated out of existence.


  4. The BC Utilities Commission is part of the tool belt that allowed Site C to be built. It should be a warning to all Public Service employees that their government employer can not be believed or trusted. With a stroke of a pen their pensions can be gone … a cost taken beyond the “point of no return”.
    Presently, Federal government pension plans are 5 times richer than any other North American plan. We are also federally $660 Billion plus deferred accounting in debt.
    The pension could be worthless and China will sue Canadians for the loss to their economy.
    The rubber stamp BCUC should be dismantled as it is a puppet with politicians doing the talking while manipulating their movements with their hands up inside the puppet’s clothing. We should also remove all of the high paid Crown Corporation executives as they are part of the puppet show.


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