BC Hydro to ramp up construction at Site C

BC Hydro says it will begin increasing construction activities Site C.

The first increase in work will focus on restarting some of the main civil works on the earthfill dam and roller-compacted concrete dam buttress, the company said May 14.

"The phased approach is based on the provincial health guidelines for industrial camps, and BC Hydro will work with project contractors and unions to begin ramping up construction activities," BC Hydro said.

BC Hydro suspended a significant portion of construction in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cutting back its workforce at the camp outside Fort St. John by more than half as it wound down construction primarily on the south bank of the Peace River, where the powerhouse and spillways are being built.

For the last two months, BC Hydro has instead focused work on the north bank, where its river diversion system needs to be completed to meet a September deadline. Construction has also continued on Highway 29 clearing and road realignments, and transmission line construction.

There are currently 834 workers reported at the work camp, and zero workers in self-isolation.

"BC Hydro worked with Northern Health to implement measures to improve health and safety at site in alignment with provincial health guidelines," the company said.

"This included enforcing social and physical distancing both in camp and at the work sites, enhancing cleaning procedures in the worker accommodation, closing common areas and closely monitoring worker health while on site."

The company said it will continue to screen workers coming onto the site, including temperature scans.

"BC Hydro will continue to work with Northern Health to ensure ongoing adherence to these health and safety measures while gradually increasing the number of workers staying at site through the spring and summer."

The workforce on Site C grew by more than 100 in March, with 4,896 workers reported.

BC Hydro said the count was a total employment number and a calculation of all who worked during the month. The March numbers did not reflect work being scaled back due to the pandemic, nor a reduction in clearing activities, BC Hydro said, noting those will be reflected in April's employment report.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

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