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Horgan announces two new expert reviews Site C dam
January 15, 2021

Horgan announces two new expert reviews amid mounting Site C dam safety concerns

The Site C dam is already significantly over budget. According to a range of independent energy experts, the dam is uneconomical at its current price tag of $10.7 billion, a figure that doesn’t account for any further budget increases to address geotechnical problems. 

Safety concerns about the Site C dam, which is being constructed on unstable shale in a valley prone to large landslides, have been raised for years. 

An October investigation by The Narwhal revealed senior officials in the B.C. government knew in May 2019 that the project’s technical advisory board had flagged the stability of the dam as a significant risk, saying “the hazards associated with the weak foundation have been adequately recognized.” 

The Site C project is located in a geographical area filled with faults that can become critically stressed during fracking operations, which are poised to expand significantly in the region to supply gas for the LNG Canada export project. More than 10,000 earthquakes occurred in the wider area in 2017 and 2018, including one that shook the Site C dam construction site, forcing workers to evacuate. 

The advisory board also said the Site C dam’s design — changed to an unconventional L-shape, much to the concern of retired BC Hydro engineer Vern Ruskin — needed to be checked. 

The board outlined seven steps for BC Hydro to follow, including calculating “the factor of safety” at the end of construction and again at the end of reservoir filling. 

Furstenau said it all adds up to cause for public concern. 

“I’m deeply concerned about the safety of this dam, and the level of risk that is being accepted by this government is beyond belief in a lot of ways.” 

Horgan said he did not know who has been contracted to assess the safety of the geotechnical solutions proposed by BC Hydro, noting only that they are international experts.

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