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Site C work continues through economic headwinds

Warren Frey
Site C work continues through economic headwinds
BC HYDRO — Work progresses on the Site C project in northeastern British Columbia, as seen in this photo from May 2022 of the spillways, penstocks, powerhouse and operations building.

Work continues on the $16-billion Site C megaproject in northeastern British Columbia as the industry deals with COVID-19, an overstretched labour market and global supply chain disruptions.

BC Hydro said they are closely monitoring supply chain issues as work carries on at the project.

“We’re working with our contractors to monitor supply chain disruptions and potential impacts to the Site C project. At this time, construction continues on the project as planned and we remain on track to have all six generating units fully in-service in 2025. We also continue to manage the project within the approved budget,” Site C manager of public affairs and community relations Greg Alexis said in a written response to the Journal of Commerce.

Ongoing labour shortages are affecting the entire construction industry and Alexis added the Site C project is working to address these concerns.

“Attraction and retention of skilled labour is a priority for us and all Site C contractors. We continue to work closely with our contractors to ensure the Site C project remains an attractive site through providing industry leading worker accommodation, and policies that support a safe, productive, and inclusive project,” he said.

BC Hydro and seven of its contractors have adapted the BC Builders Code, a standard of conduct spearheaded by the British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) and other industry stakeholders to curb bullying and encourage inclusiveness on construction jobsites. Site C is the first multi-contractor, project–wide commitment to the code, a BCCA release stated.  

“BC Hydro has made a commitment to diversity and inclusion and we see the Builders Code as a valuable tool in reaffirming that commitment. For the industry to change, we need to be consistent in recognizing that safety hazards are psychological as well as physical. A site that tolerates hazing, bullying and harassment is not a safe site,” BC Hydro president and CEO Chris O’Riley said in a statement.  

“Large employers and public owners like BC Hydro have the power to make a huge positive impact on culture across the construction workforce. By bringing so many large contractors along with them and approaching culture change from a project rather than a company perspective, the team at BC Hydro is showing tremendous leadership,” added BCCA president Chris Atchison.

An update released June 10 said powerhouse, spillway and dam and core buttress construction continues including concrete placements at the powerhouse, intakes and spillways along with installation of penstock segments.

Installation of cable tray and other electrical components have started on the generator floor and coatings are being applied in the draft tube cone access area.

Three of six turbines have arrived onsite and the fourth turbine runner is being stored off-site.

“The remaining two runners will likely be delivered next winter when road conditions allow,” the update stated.

Clearing and road construction activities to access aggregate sources on the south bank (Area E and Area 24) and north bank (Howe Pit) are underway and construction of foundations for three 500-kilovolt transmission lines between the Site C Substation and the Site C Powerhouse will continue, the update added.

Construction of a 2.6-kilometre-long berm to protect the shoreline of Hudson’s Hope is in progress including hauling and placing of berm filter, berm fill and riprap to bring the berm up to the design elevation.

Site C, which started construction in 2015, is slated to provide enough energy to power the equivalent of 450,000 homes per year.

Follow the author on Twitter @JOCFrey.

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