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HomeMiscellanyExclusive: Site C secrecy alive and well under NDP

Exclusive: Site C secrecy alive and well under NDP


Bob Mackin

theBreaker can exclusively show you photographs from the massive Site C dam construction area.

But little else. 

That is because BC Hydro, with the NDP government’s blessing, has censored most of the information about budgeting and scheduling for the $10.7 billion dam from the main civil works contractor’s 96-page, project status report for September 2017. 

theBreaker applied Nov. 8 under the freedom of information law for a copy of the Peace River Hydro Partners report for that pivotal month when the project went awry. BC Hydro finally delivered it on March 2 — almost three months after Premier John Horgan announced the BC Liberal-started dam would continue with “enhanced oversight.”

BC Hydro claims disclosure of this information would harm both BC Hydro and its contractors. theBreaker will appeal to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

PRHP is the $1.75 billion main civil works joint venture of South Korea’s Samsung and Spain’s Acciona. Alberta’s Petrowest was the third member, but it went into receivership in August. 

What is censored? The list is long.

The summary of risks; schedule progress; changes in critical activities; comparison of actual progress and the latest updated work program; graphs showing actual progress and planned progress; manpower allocation and forecast; actual equipment on-site and forecast; and safety report statistics. 

There is a list of environmental incidents. The dates and locations are visible, but the nature of each incident is not. 

What is not censored? 

Fuel use.

As of September, 11.6 million litres of fuel (10.07 million litres of diesel) had been used for construction on the left bank, while 23.49 million litres of diesel had been used on the right bank. That would create a lot of exhaust for a project that BC Hydro has branded “clean.” 

There were five media inquiries made to PRHP in September, all on the same topic: the 200 workers laid-off Sept. 24-25.

The layoffs were a sign of major trouble brewing on the horizon.

BC Hydro claimed in a letter to the B.C. Utilities Commission on Aug. 30 that the project was “on time and on budget” for $8.335 billion, and it would likely not have to dip into the $440 million set aside by Treasury Board. 

On Oct. 4, BC Hydro CEO Chris O’Riley revealed to the BCUC that there had been “some geotechnical and construction challenges on the project.” The 2019 river diversion would be delayed by a year and the cost would jump $610 million. 

The NDP cabinet decided Dec. 6 that the project would go ahead at $10.7 billion — which is $4.1 billion more than the 2010-announced budget by the BC Liberals. 

In a Jan. 25 affidavit for Sage Legal, on behalf of the West Moberly First Nation, ex-BC Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen accused BC Hydro of mismanaging the project and misleading taxpayers about the costs and schedule. 

“In less than three and a half months, Site C costs increased from $8.335 billion to $10.7 billion, an increase of almost 30%,” Eliesen wrote. “There still remains seven years of scheduled construction to complete the project. BC Hydro claims to have been caught unaware by the material increases in its costs.”

Meanwhile, BC Hydro is downplaying the impacts of pausing work to clear a 29-kilometre stretch for a transmission line corridor. West Moberly First Nation convinced a B.C. Supreme Court judge to hold a 10-day injunction hearing between July 24 and Sept. 10. BC Hydro agreed to suspend the road clearing work until Oct. 1 or when a decision is made, whichever is soonest. 

BC Hydro spokeswoman Mora Scott told theBreaker “there is no impact” to the project schedule and BC Hydro is assessing potential cost implications. 

“Any increase in costs related to the work stoppage we expect to be covered by the project’s contingency,” Scott wrote. “We are proceeding with clearing and access road development along the transmission corridor outside of this area and waste wood disposal and hauling of already felled merchantable timber will continue along the entire transmission corridor.” 

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See the heavily censored Site C September 2017 project report

September PRHP .pdf by BobMackin on Scribd

See the Site C picture show