BC Hydro

Sarah Cox on CO-OP RADIO

Sarah Cox is an award-winning author and journalist based in Victoria, B.C. Sarah authored the 2018 book Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand Against Big Hydro.

Sarah writes regularly for The Narwhal and is the preeminent journalist covering issues surrounding British Columbia’s effort to ensure that NL’s Muskrat Falls is only the second worst hydro-electric project in Canada.

This is her conversation with the Redeye program on CO-OP RADIO CFRO 100.5, August 15, 2020.

Categories: BC Hydro, Site C

8 replies »

  1. We are all in serious trouble because of Hydros poor judgment in starting this project and Sarah Cox sets it out for us. The big one, likely the most expensive is the unstable footing under the massive foundation that Hydro built because they couldn’t find bedrock to tie the dam too. It isn’t working. Hydro says they don’t know how they should fix it and they don’t know what a fix might cost us.

    The other major construction problem, not to mention all the non-construction related problems with the proposed dam, is the diversion schedule. Hydro is pouring water out of the Peace River watershed at a rate that hasn’t been seen since the spring floods before WAC Bennett dam was built in 1965. And it isn’t a short term outflow. The lower Peace River has been seeing these high flows since about last October.

    Hydro is trying to empty the reservoir behind WAC in order to be able to hold back future floods up there so that the diversion tunnels aren’t overwhelmed. The tunnels are built in the same shale/sandstone/gravel seams as the powerhouse foundation and are not safe to operate if the water gets too high.

    And Hydro has to maintain a low level of flow once the tunnels are in use, for about five years if we let them continue with this boondoggle, otherwise the attempt to build the actual dam would be in jeopardy if the waters start rising. With the kind of climate change impact of rainfall that the Peace area had this year that isn’t a good bet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sarah Cox received 2,000 pages of information on Friday in response to a January request by The Narwhal for copies of minutes, recommendations and reports from the Project Assurance Board.

    If past is prologue we can expect:

    1. A fulsome report on the release in the Narwhal soon.
    2. Key information withheld by PAB using all loopholes.
    3. Silence from the legislative press gaggery.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Further to Randy’s point about problems with the river diversion tunnels and high water levels, an engineer friend is warning that there’s potentially a further problem with the tunnels. For readers who don’t know, in an unplanned move, Hydro had to significantly narrow the two river diversion tunnels when a 2m-thick concrete and steel liner had to be added because the unstable shale they were tunneling through was collapsing. The engineer can’t say for sure that the tunnels were narrowed by 2m the whole way through, because he doesn’t have access to Hydro’s information (no surprise there), but that’s the figure Hydro gave. That’s a 4m -12 FOOT! – decrease in diameter of the tunnels, and by his calculations that’s a 60% decrease in flow. He says “From the simple comparison of diameters squared, the reduction is 60%. Flow in the 7m tunnel (decreased from original 11m diameter by 2m on each side of the diameter) can be increased from this ratio by using higher pressure at the inlet, but will never match the 11m diameter. It would be good to get a response from the tunnel designers about the reduced diameter. A tunnel is not like an open spillway that operates on gravity…water flow is reduced by friction with the walls, like in a pipeline, and needs pressure to force the water through at river volumes. This reduced diameter will need more pressure to move the volumes, and that can only come from a higher cofferdam creating the added pressure. How high is the question, since it may be much higher than they planned, and becoming more like a large dam construction rather than material pushed in by a bulldozer.”

    Then he ended with a line that has become a favourite: “Can’t believe all the problems in this project. So many that they interfere with each other.”


  4. Brilliant interview Sarah – thank you! ❤️

    With all the information now on the table the Site C Dam should be stopped and a public inquiry launched to – as the Globe and Mail suggests – examine all costs and options, including cut our losses and return the site to Mother Nature to repair.

    As one Peace River rancher notes, there are works of value that will remain in the Valley because of the construction that offset our taxpayer costs. She notes:

    1) In our area we gained much needed road and utility upgrades worth MILLIONS. Those that have worked on the “Make Work Get More Votes and stipends” project, had JOBS and PAID Income TAX working those jobs

    .2) We gained a second access across the Peace River via the bridge on site. This bridge could serve as access to the gas fields on the ridge above the worksite, that is part of the massive Montney Shale play below, the shale gas field that is fracking the banks apart As Chief Roland Willson said, “You can have one or the other, but not BOTH”, and the frack shake studies at and immediately surrounding the site, are proof of that.

    3) There is NO NEED to put every stone back, despite the massive irreparable damage done to sacred, archaeological, historical pre and post ice age sites and finds, but the shut down and remediation work will also provide years of tax paying JOBS!

    4) We will have regained much needed aggregates, that have been bought up locally and hauled in from the massive Pine Pass quarry, to build this monstrousity, that have all but depleted our region’s stocks, for building and repairing our roads here. The site could be mined for decades of these aggregates worth BILLIONS.

    5) We will have 2 fully serviced pads, that will be suitable for building a subdivision, where the camp was and a small brand new town for workers who work the gas fields across the river, and/or at an alternate power generator such as wind, solar, Blue Gas co gen etc, across from the site on the South bank and ALL the powerline and transformer station infrastructure is already in place to set up an alternate power generating station “IF and WHEN BC ever needs more power!”.

    6) Most buildings and equipment, including the camp, will have to be sold, whether the dam is finished or not, these assets alone must be worth a BILLION+ $$.

    ALL the 5 billion has NOT been WASTED Far from it. We need to get the benefit figures down on paper and make them public, so that wasting another 10 thousand million + interest, on a project predicted to fail, doesn’t happen.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What we need now is accountability. Just go through all the management at BC Hydro and obligate them to each sign a declaration of competence. We will find that many managers have no more than high school diplomas (and we wonder why this project was mismanaged).

    There have been employees that were laid off or fired due to their opposition of site C and for raising awareness of other mismanaged projects. Now it’s time for the removal of the real bad apples.

    I remain skeptical that the incompetents will be removed… they are too connected and the incompetence goes right to the most powerful people in BC. But I’m still going to wish upon the Perseid meteor shower that we take out the incompetent and/or corrupt employees.


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