An artist’s rendering of the Site C dam, the third hydro dam on the Peace River. BC Hydro image

Site C dam project plagued by problems: expert

E. Harvey Elwin expresses concern about internal BC Hydro and government documents

The mammoth Site C hydro-electric project is seriously behind schedule, plagued by quality problems and marked by secrecy, says an assessment by an international dam expert.

E. Harvey Elwin – hired by a First Nation asking for a court injunction to aspects of the dam’s construction – expresses concern about work at the job site in his 196-page report citing internal BC Hydro and government documents, many of them previously confidential.

“In my opinion, it is the sign of a large performance problem with the (main) contractor meeting the requirements of the specifications and quality of work,” he wrote in the report filed Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court.

In a letter accompanying a progress report to the B.C. Utilities Commission dated July 11, BC Hydro president Chris O’Riley said the project remains “on time and within budget.”

Spokespeople for the provincial government and contractor Peace River Hydro Partners did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Elwin, who has worked on dams around the world including China’s Three Gorges project, concludes the dam’s construction is likely to take years longer than BC Hydro says.

READ MORE: Anti-Site C petition approved

The 1,100-megawatt dam and generating station on the Peace River in northern B.C. would flood parts of the traditional territory of the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations.

In January they filed a civil court case, alleging their rights have been violated.

West Moberly also applied for an injunction to halt construction pending the outcome of the rights case. That motion goes to court Monday. Elwin’s report was filed in support of West Moberly’s case.

BC Hydro has argued any injunction would create heavy budget overruns. It says a two-year injunction would cost an extra $660 million and a three-year stoppage would cost $1.1 billion.

Based on documents BC Hydro was forced to release as part of the court process, Elwin disagrees.

He found that stopping work in 13 areas the West Moberly are most concerned about would delay completion of major milestones by a few months at most. He concluded the cost of a three-year injunction would be $71 million.

Elwin expresses serious concern at the number of reports detailing construction problems.

“I have observed that there are always a large number of (non-conformance reports) generated and being processed. It is also evident that many are not closed rapidly,” he writes. “The number, frequency, and lengths of time to close (such reports) are an indicator of the quality of work.”

Projections for placing concrete are “overly optimistic and not realistically achievable,” he says.

Last year, Elwin says contractors placed 35 per cent of the concrete they were supposed to for a major section of the dam. At that rate, Site C will take well over a decade to finish, significantly past its 2024 completion date, Elwin suggests.

O’Riley’s letter acknowledges the project has had problems meeting its construction schedule. It has also had safety concerns.

He said an agreement has been reached with the main contractor that will accelerate some activities and provide incentive payments to meet deadlines. That’s projected to cost up to $325 million.

“While the agreement will draw on our contingency budget … we have been able to manage the costs within the existing construction budget,” O’Riley wrote.

Elwin is skeptical.

“I seriously doubt the capability of the (main) contractor to take on and effectively perform to an accelerated schedule,” says his report.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Northern California man charged with aiding fugitive Brandon Teixeira

Sam Koh, 40, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to harbouring Teixeira

South Surrey couple donates $1M to hospital’s children’s centre campaign

Donation brings hospital foundation’s fundraising goal within $1 million

The Surrey Hospice Society’s Toolbox thrift store reopens in Cloverdale

Before she fell ill, Janet Child revamped second-hand tool store

Prolific offender nabbed at Surrey SkyTrain after police say he skipped paying fare

Officers arrested Reginald Simon at Scott Road SkyTrain after discovering he had 11 outstanding warrants

Cloverdale hospital could take pressure off Langley Memorial

Fraser Health says about 20 per cent of patients at LMH are from Surrey

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

Snowfall warning issued for Coquihalla Highway

Up to 25 cm of snow is expected to fall in the region by Thursday

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Most Read