‘Slow-Motion Disaster’: Who’s Overseeing Site C?

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epaulo13 wrote:

..are those in the piece i posted not bc'ers

You know as well I do that if the Liberals had won the election Site C would still be proceeding full tilt. The only difference would be that Horgan and Heyman and Dix would be calling for the camps to be shut down. That's just the way they roll.

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..yes i would agree with that krop. they would do that knowing full well they agreed with the liberals.


It is important to remain united and resolute and then we will see better days ahead for all of us!

He thinks health and safety guidelines introduced to help curb the spread of COVID-19 have been well-adopted by construction sites in B.C. There is physical distancing, greater education for workers, more signs, hygiene stations and protocols for disinfection, he said.


In Vancouver, Anne McMullin, CEO and president of the UDI, noted that the provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, considers outdoor construction work a low-risk activity if the rules are followed.


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..here in wpg workers at a meat packing plant have been declared essential. 

..site c is not essential except to the powerful investors in the lng and fracking industry..who live nowhere near site c.  so why take the risk in communities that don't have the resources nor the facilities to deal with the pandemic? the approach to the pandemic is supposed to be about flattening the curve. man camps are about sacrifice zones. 

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‘I don’t see why anything should be secret’: First Nation rejected $28 million in Site C dam deal, court docs reveal

BC Hydro offered West Moberly First Nations $28 million in lump-sum payments and annual payments to address the impacts of the Site C dam, according to new court documents for a treaty rights infringement trial.

The documents also reveal details about deals BC Hydro signed with four of seven other B.C. Treaty 8 First Nations, which consented to the Site C dam project or did not “oppose or object” to it. 

Until now, BC Hydro has withheld financial information about the secret deals it offered First Nations for the $10.7 billion Site C dam, the largest publicly funded project in the province’s history.

The documents, filed in B.C. Supreme Court on March 2, form part of BC Hydro’s response to a civil claim by West Moberly First Nations, which alleges the Site C dam and two previous dams on the Peace River constitute an unjustifiable infringement of treaty rights. A trial, scheduled to begin in March 2022, is expected to last six months. 

According to the court documents, West Moberly First Nations did not accept BC Hydro’s financial offer, made in July 2014 — five months before the Site C project was approved by the B.C. government. That offer included a fee simple transfer of up to 3,000 hectares of Crown land, an area one and a half times the size of the city of Victoria.

The documents, filed in B.C. Supreme Court on March 2, form part of BC Hydro’s response to a civil claim by West Moberly First Nations, which alleges the Site C dam and two previous dams on the Peace River constitute an unjustifiable infringement of treaty rights. A trial, scheduled to begin in March 2022, is expected to last six months. 

According to the court documents, West Moberly First Nations did not accept BC Hydro’s financial offer, made in July 2014 — five months before the Site C project was approved by the B.C. government. That offer included a fee simple transfer of up to 3,000 hectares of Crown land, an area one and a half times the size of the city of Victoria.

West Moberly also declined an offer from BC Hydro to apply for funding from a $10 million compensation fund for Indigenous groups, established to help address the Site C’s project’s impacts on land and resources used for traditional purposes, the documents state. (As of April 2, there was no information about the $10 million fund on BC Hydro’s Site C website, which lists other compensation funds related to the project.)

The Site C dam is slated to flood 128 kilometres of the Peace River and its tributaries, destroying Indigenous burial sites, traditional hunting and fishing grounds and dozens of cultural and spiritual sites with names such as Dreamer’s Island, Dancing Rock, Vision Quest Island and Canoe in Bush.

A Joint Review Panel that examined the project for the B.C. and federal governments concluded the impacts of the dam on First Nations traditional land use would likely be adverse, significant and impossible to mitigate.


If BC Hydro offered that same sum of money to the four B.C. Treaty 8 First Nations who signed Site C impact benefit and land transfer agreements, the payout would be $112 million — not including indexing for inflation, the value of land transfers or procurement opportunities.

That’s on par with what Coastal GasLink estimated it would give five elected Wet’suwet’en band councils over a 25-year period in cash distributions totalling $4.6 million a year, for a sum of $115 million, according to a story in the Globe and Mail.

The disclosure about the money BC Hydro offered to West Moberly First Nations comes as the public utility falls under increasing criticism for continuing construction on the Site C project during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Although BC Hydro has scaled back its workforce, it continues to fly workers in and out from across B.C. and Alberta, despite calls from the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and Fort St. John city councillors to shut down the project during the pandemic. As of April 1, there were 935 workers at BC Hydro’s Site C dam camp and seven were in self-isolation with flu-like symptoms....

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..the ndp position on site c is politically based not medically based.

‘Send everybody home’: potential coronavirus outbreak at Site C dam a threat to Fort St. John, local officials say

With BC Hydro reporting 12 workers with flu-like symptoms, city councillors, First Nations chiefs and local community members are calling for an immediate suspension of work on the project

Fort St. John’s mayor and city councillors didn’t mince words on Tuesday at a special council meeting that declared the pandemic a local emergency, briefly granting the city extraordinary powers such as the ability to manage people’s movements and to ration.

“If for some reason there was an outbreak at Site C our hospital would be inundated with patients that we could not handle, that our health system could not handle with the seven ventilators we have in the community,” councillor Trevor Bolin said during the meeting, which some councillors and the mayor joined remotely while others sat spaced apart in the council chamber. “They should just stop working until this is done … ”

“Site C is not a vital thing to our society,” said councillor Byron Stewart. “It is not an emergency service, it is not front-line service. It is a structure that’s being built. I personally would just like to see the province step in and shut it down, and send everybody home.”

Mayor Lori Ackerman said the Fort St. John hospital, which has 55 acute care beds and three ICU units, would be under “extreme pressure” if it had to accommodate sick people from outside the region as well as ailing local residents.

“This is not about not being compassionate, this is about ensuring the services to the community are safe and secure,” she said, emphasizing that her comments were directed at industry in general. Ackerman said fly-in fly-out workers should be “home with their families, self-isolating [with] their support systems.”

The ability of the city of Fort St. John to take local measures to deal with the pandemic was swiftly curtailed on Thursday as B.C. Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth, citing the need for a centralized provincial response, suspended all local states of emergency specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, except for the city of Vancouver.

“What we need to have is a coordinated response right across the province so we don’t have a patchwork response,” Farnworth said at a press conference.

But even though the province issued a new series of ministerial orders on Thursday to ensure a coordinated response across all levels of government for the duration of the provincial emergency — including orders related to the supply chain for essential goods and services, consumer protection and enforcement of orders for business closings and gatherings — it hasn’t taken steps to shut down work camps for industrial projects such as LNG Canada, Teck Resources’ Elkview coal mine, the Coastal GasLink pipeline and the Site C dam.....

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..more from above


The Union of BC Indian Chiefs is calling on the B.C. government to take immediate action to halt all Site C dam construction due to the risk COVID-19 poses to workers and nearby Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in northeast B.C.

“Given the close quarters and inevitable contact points at the 1,600-worker camp, an outbreak of COVID-19 would be disastrous and with dire implications for nearby communities, including First Nation communities,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and two other members of the union’s executive wrote in a letter on Thursday to B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan.

“We are informed that there is an extreme shortage of health services in northeast British Columbia, with virtually no hospital beds available to handle an outbreak in Fort St. John or nearby Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities,” said the chiefs, pointing to a recent BC Hydro news release saying work continues on building tunnels to divert the Peace River, transmission lines, highway construction and tree clearing. 

“This negligence and irresponsible continuation of construction places the welfare of workers and communities at an unacceptable risk and is utterly inconsistent with the health advice provided by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry,” the chiefs said. 

The $470 million Site C camp, on the banks of the Peace River, is staffed by local workers, including from Indigenous communities, who cook, clean, make beds and normally provide services such as haircuts, personal training and trips to Fort St. John, six kilometres away, on a “Site C leisure bus.” 


BC Hydro did not respond to questions about how many workers staying at the camp have been tested for the novel coronavirus, or how many local workers may be self-isolating in their homes with novel coronavirus symptoms. COVID-19 test results in northern B.C. can take up to two weeks.

Asked what happened to four additional people who were in “self-isolation” at the camp with flu-like symptoms earlier this week, Fish said only that “these numbers do change daily as workers’ symptoms improve and they go back to work, or return home if their two-week shift schedule is over.”

BC Hydro also did not respond to questions about charter flights for the project. 

The Narwhal has learned that BC Hydro charters planes from North Caribou Air and typically flies workers from Nanaimo, Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary and Edmonton to Fort St. John for rotating shifts. 

The planes land and take off from the North Peace Regional Airport, which has one small departure lounge also used by Air Canada, WestJet and Central Mountain Air passengers.

Jim and Margaret Little are two of the community members who have expressed alarm about the continued operation of the Site C project work camp, deemed an essential service by the provincial government even though energy demand in B.C. has been stagnant since 2005 despite a growing population.

“Most public facilities are now closed or with very limited openings,” the Littles wrote in a letter to Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Henry. “This project should be shuttered until such time that this pandemic has been controlled.”

The couple, a teacher and retired professional forester, pointed out most British Columbians have limited access to normal opportunities during the pandemic if they are following provincial orders.

“A significant number of employees move within B.C. to access and resource this project and this movement needs to be strictly controlled at this time,” the Littles said.

WorkSafeBC said it can’t provide information about the number of complaints related to COVID-19 it has received from workers at the Site C project, LNG Canada project or Coastal GasLink pipeline project, saying The Narwhal will have to file a Freedom of Information request to obtain details.

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BC Hydro suspends Site C shuttle, six people in isolation at work camp


Virus 'seems to apply to everyone' but big industry

On Friday, Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) secretary-treasurer, reiterated the group’s position that BC Hydro should halt all construction at Site C due to the risk coronavirus poses to workers and nearby communities.

UBCIC has also sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, B.C. Premier John Horgan, and provincial and federal health ministers that asked for work on the natural gas pipeline, Coastal GasLink, to be stopped to protect public health.

As well, the Green Party and B.C. Indigenous leaders have expressed concerns about the continued construction of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline, which is now owned by the government of Canada.

“There seems to be a government push, still, to rely on big oil, and dirty fossil fuel oil and gas,” said Wilson at an online rally organized by Sustainabiliteens, Our Earth, Our Future, Leadnow, Dogwood and Stand.earth.

“The COVID virus seems to apply to everyone (in terms of) physical and social distancing ... and precautions, but it doesn’t seem to apply to big industry, or oil and gas,” she said.


This week, Trudeau suggested that Trans Mountain would continue construction.

“I can assure you that Crown corporations, all Crown corporations, are following all the best medical advice,” he said Wednesday. Trans Mountain is operated by a Crown corporation, called Canada Development Investment Corporation.

On Friday, Trudeau also said he had held a discussion with premiers on Thursday that included an aid package for the oil and gas industry.

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Active Peace Valley landslide renews questions about slope instability and B.C. government secrecy

As an active new landslide severs the only road to the Peace Valley community of Old Fort, residents want to know why the B.C. government is refusing to release information about an earlier landslide in the same location, near the Site C dam construction site. 

“What kind of information do you have that is so bad that you can’t share it?” asked Kali Chmelyk, one of 150 Old Fort residents who has been under an evacuation alert since June 19, shortly after residents first noticed cracks and buckling in the road following a heavy rainfall. 

Since then, an advancing wall of mud has eliminated more than 150 metres of the Old Fort access road, which was rebuilt after an October 2018 landslide wiped out part of the road, destroyed a home and prompted a local state of emergency.

The new slide has picked up speed and has been moving towards the Peace River at approximately two metres per hour since 10 p.m. on June 21, according to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.  

“It seems really shady,” Chmelyk said. “If we could at least know what’s going on, see the report, even if it’s a draft, that’s all I want. I don’t get it. I don’t understand why they would be withholding that.”

Last year, The Narwhal learned through a Freedom of Information request that the 2018 landslide, in an area underlaid by numerous natural gas leases and near one entrance to the Site C dam worksite, was classified as a “dangerous occurrence” under B.C.’s health, safety and reclamation code.

That triggered a geotechnical assessment to identify “the root cause and contributing factors” of the slide, according to a briefing note for Peter Robb, mining and energy assistant deputy minister.

In November 2019, the ministry told The Narwhal the assessment was not yet complete. 

The Peace River Regional District subsequently filed a Freedom of Information request seeking all reports related to the landslide, which displaced eight million cubic metres of earth, cutting off Old Fort for one month.

But the provincial government refused to release the reports, telling the district, as reported by the Alaska Highway News, that disclosure would be harmful to law enforcement

“What does that even mean?” Brad Sperling, chair of the Peace River Regional District, asked at an April board meeting. “I’m really kind of confused about their response to this.” 

The district has requested that B.C.’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner review the decision.

Prior to the new slide, the regional district and the provincial government exchanged sometimes testy letters over who held responsibility for determining if the slopes around Old Fort were stable enough to lift an evacuation order and alert that have been in place since the 2018 landslide. The earlier order and alert affect six houses, portions of other properties and Crown land. 

Last August, the regional district board asked Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth for data and information to substantiate a claim by the minister that the area was unlikely to experience “a dramatic slippage of the remaining hillside that might further impact homes” in the Old Fort area.

In November, the regional district hired consulting and engineering firm Tetra Tech to conduct hazard assessments of the Old Fort and Buffioux Creek areas, to determine whether the emergency alerts and evacuation orders should remain in place. 

According to the FOI documents obtained by The Narwhal, a gravel mine that was stockpiling materials on the slope above Old Fort was not the root cause of the 2018 landslide. 

The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources said its investigation into the 2018 landslide is still ongoing. 

“While understanding the need for timely and robust investigations, the Chief Inspector will take the necessary time in order to adequately consider the information and prepare the investigation findings,” the ministry said in an email......

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The Site C dam has become an albatross and a serious objective review is needed urgently

Mauro Chiesa has worked on project finance around the world for many banks, including the World Bank. Harry Swain chaired the Joint Review Panel on Site C and is a former deputy minister of Industry Canada. Mike Harcourt is a former premier of B.C. and former mayor of Vancouver.

Here’s an ineluctable law of nature: Project costs escalate during construction. But still, there are limits around what people should accept. For B.C.‘s Site C dam, the costs have gone from $3.5-billion, which was the estimate when the project was first touted, to the $6.9-billion quoted when the project underwent public review, to the official $10.7-billion price tag that hung until very recently. Since then, BC Hydro has discovered nasty geotechnical conditions under the powerhouse and spillways, and says their cost and schedule estimates are so broken it will take them until the fall just to produce new ones.

The last time costs got away from BC Hydro, the NDP government layered on a Project Assurance Board to keep track. Clearly, its members have not done their jobs, not that their names – nor any reports – have ever been released to the public. On July 31, Bruce Ralston, the province’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and the man in charge of Site C, appointed Peter Milburn, a former deputy minister of finance whose original training was in engineering, to oversee the overseers and to report back in the fall. Under media questioning, however, Mr. Ralston avoided committing to making public any of Mr. Milburn’s reports.


But was it really a surprise? Back in 2018, a hugely experienced dam engineer named Harvey Elwin said – in a sworn court statement for the West Moberly First Nation – that he’d never seen such appalling foundation conditions nor such secrecy on the part of project proponents. You can bet your boots that every word of his statement was parsed in the corridors of BC Hydro. They knew there were problems years ago. Either they never told the government, or the government did not want to ask, or the Project Assurance Board decided to hope the problem would go away.

BC Hydro blamed all this on COVID-19. But the problem has been staring the utility in the face for years. Its current (and late) reports to the BC Utilities Commission cover 2019 and the first quarter of 2020. Ignoring the novelty of blaming a piece of Pleistocene-era geology for a 21st-century problem, only the final two weeks of the 65 weeks covered by the report overlapped with the COVID-19 lockdown. In 1957, a 15-year-old bridge on the Alaska Highway collapsed a few miles downstream when a landslide in construction-softened clay dislodged the northern cable abutment, so this is nothing new for government.


BC Hydro has consumed all of the project’s contingency budget five years before project completion. It will not complete the project for the promised $6.9-, sorry $7.9-, sorry $8.3-, sorry $10.7-billion. At least they have pushed off the date when Site C becomes part of the rate base, to be paid off by all of us taxpayers, until after the next two elections.

But a fundamental problem even nastier than unco-operative geology still looms: the fact that even by 2025, there will be no demand for the power Site C produces. Its cost will likely be north of $120 per megawatt hour (MWh) – even more than the $118/MWh residential consumers paid last year, and more than the very high $87/MWh paid last year for power from Independent Power Producers. Couple that with the concessionary $54/MWh rates promised to the liquefied natural gas industry, and residential consumers are in for a terrific shock. And as the price rises, less will be consumed. This is the elasticity of demand: a snake that eats its own tail.


In 2017, the NDP government decided, against much evidence, that the B.C. Liberals had succeeded in pushing the project past the point of no return. They now own this project, period. It’s time for a serious, objective, swift, experienced and professional review – not the narrowly circumscribed predetermined review that an embarrassed BC Utilities Commission was obliged to undertake in 2017. It’s still not too late.

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Prominent people demand immediate halt to Site C over stability concerns

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 letter signed by former Hydro president Marc Eliesen, former fisheries minister David Anderson, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and others says construction of the Site C dam must stop while geotechnical problems are explored.

They say an independent team of experts should determine if the problems can be resolved and at what cost.

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."

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.....