FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A report written by a former hydroelectric dam engineer commissioned by the West Moberly First Nations says that there is an “extremely high probability” that the Site C Dam will be delayed by at least one year.
The report was drafted by E. Harvey Elwin, who reviewed a number of confidential documents that the First Nation obtained ahead of a court hearing later this month into its application for an injunction to halt work on the project.
Elwin previously worked as an engineer, project manager, and consultant on a number of hydroelectric projects, including the $27.6 billion Three Gorges Dam in China – the largest electrical power station in the world. He also served as a lead project manager responsible for design and construction of the $2.25 billion Ghazi Barotha Hydroelectric Project in Pakistan.
In his report, Elwin contradicts a number of recent assurances made by Energy Minister Michelle Mungall and BC Hydro president and COO Chris O’Riley, who have both said in the past two months that the project is on track with its current schedule and budget.
Elwin’s report identifies seven distinct “major risk issues” responsible for current and future delays, the first being major setbacks in the placement of almost 2 million cubic meters of concrete for the dam’s right bank roller compacted concrete buttress. Elwin says that only 35 percent of the planned concrete was placed in 2017, and that acceleration efforts this year appear to have failed. Delays in concrete placement have ripple effects on other critical steps, leading Mr. Elwin to conclude that there is an “extremely high probability” that the Project Milestones will be delayed, pushing river diversion, reservoir filling, and the project’s in-service dates back by at least one year.
BC Hydro has previously estimated the cost of a one-year delay to be over $600 million.
“Here’s a report from an international expert setting out the seven deadly sins of dam construction. And Site C is guilty of every one of them,” said Chief Roland Willson, of West Moberly First Nations. “We’ve been hearing rumours of problems at the dam site for a while. But now we’ve got the cold hard facts, and nobody can blame us for the massive delays and cost overruns to come. They can thank the Premier himself for those.”
The full report, which contains a number of redactions, can be read below.