BC Hydro president says project health of Site C went from ‘red’ to ‘yellow’ during first quarter

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VANCOUVER, B.C. – BC Hydro President and Chief Operating Officer Chris O’Riley says in a letter to the B.C. Utilities Commission that after a number of issues and setbacks to the dam’s construction, the Site C project is back on track to be completed on-time and on-budget.

In his letter to Commission Secretary and Manager Patrick Wruck, O’Riley also follows up on his letter to the Commission last October, when he said that the Crown Corporation was going to miss its deadline to divert the Peace River in September 2019 because of geotechnical issues.

News of the letter was first reported by Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer late Wednesday.

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O’Riley acknowledges in the letter that schedule and safety concerns impacted the overall health of the construction of Site C. “For these reasons we classified the overall health of the project for this quarter as “red”, or having serious concerns,” O’Riley wrote.

“As noted above, we have worked hard over the past several months to improve our performance in these areas and since the reporting period, the overall health of the project has significantly improved and is now classified as “yellow,” or having some concerns.”

O’Riley says that last month, BC Hydro reached a memorandum of understanding with Peace River Hydro Partners, the dam’s main civil works contractor, at a cost of $325 million.

He says that the MOU includes a contractual schedule that achieves the diversion of the Peace River in 2020, which will keep the project on track to meeting the 2024 project in-service date.

Also included in the memorandum are plans to accelerate a number of critical construction activities and purchasing some additional key equipment, with numerous incentive payments for PRHP if and when they meet critical project milestones.

Finally, the agreement includes a settlement of past issues that O’Riley described in his letter to the Commission on October 4th, 2017.

O’Riley explained that the $325 million settlement will be paid from the contingency fund of the dam’s main civil works budget, which he said will have no impact on the overall project budget.

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“The final contractual agreement between BC Hydro and the main civil works contractor is expected to be complete later this month,” he added.

O’Riley also says in his letter that the Crown Corporation has also taken action to address safety concerns on the jobsite at Site C.

“During the reporting period there were two lost time injuries, six medical attention treatment injuries and five near-misses – an increase from the previous quarter,” said O’Riley.

He said that Hydro has developed a plan to improve safety at the dam’s construction site, including implementing a senior-level safety steering committee with all prime contractors to address shared safety issues, hiring a permanent senior field safety manager, and regularly holding on-site safety conferences.

“The contractors have confirmed their commitment to safety as well and developed plans to improve their performance,” O’Riley added.

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The full letter can be read here: https://www.bchydro.com/content/dam/BCHydro/customer-portal/documents/corporate/media/site-c-quarterly-report-11.pdf

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