Old Fort landslide grows to 8 million cubic metres

The Old Fort landslide has grown to eight million cubic metres, according to the latest information from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

The main slide, which began Sept. 30, is approximately seven million cubic metres, and another slide triggered to the west of it is approximately one million cubic metres.

To put that into perspective, BC Hydro contractors have so far cleared this much material from the north bank of the Peace River at the Site C dam site just upstream of Old Fort.

Approximately 11 million cubic metres will be scraped from the north bank as part of slope stabilization efforts at the dam site.

On Friday, Brad Sperling, chair of the Peace River Regional District, said geologists are studying the Old Fort slide in three separate sections:

  • the main slide, which began underneath a gravel quarry on the hillside above Old Fort and is pushing its way through a gully in the Peace River valley; and
  • the west slide, which is a "relic" slide that was triggered on Oct. 4.
  • there have been stress cracks opening and spreading to the east of the main slide, toward and above Old Fort homes.

Rhonda Mallefont, the engineering geologist hired by the PRRD to study the slide, has called it a "deep-seated" failure.

It's unknown when the slide will stop, and Old Fort residents forced to evacuate on Oct. 7 could be out of their homes for up to eight months.

The ministry has provided the following update on the landslide:

"The safety and well-being of the people in the Old Fort community is our top priority.

24-hour traffic control is in place and staff are monitoring the slide by air daily. Alternate routes to access the community are being explored. However, it is currently not safe to start construction on any of the options. The ministry has mobilized road construction equipment to the area and it is on standby. Equipment is ready to go, once it is deemed safe to proceed.

Crews need to wait until the slide stops moving and the ground stabilizes to start this work. In terms of the size, the main slide is approximately 7 million cubic meters, and the western slide is approximately 1 million cubic meters (total of approximately 8 million cubic meters).

The ministry has staff working in the PRRD Emergency Operation Centre. We recognize that this is a very unsettling time for people in Old Fort.

The Peace River Regional District is providing frequent updates on their website and Facebook – so we advise people to check here for further details on the evacuation order and on Emergency Social Services that are being offered. https://prrd.bc.ca/

We will continue to keep the community updated as more information becomes available."

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

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