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COVID-19 precaution: BC Hydro scales down construction activities on 1,100-MW Site C

BC Hydro is modifying its work activities on the 1,100-MW Site C hydroelectric project near Fort St. John in response to what it calls the “increasing escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Site C is currently under construction on the Peace River in northeast British Columbia. The project is expected to cost $8.2 billion and be completed in 2024. It will feature an earthfill dam 60 m tall and 1,050 m long and a powerhouse with six Francis turbine-generator units.

BC Hydro says its top priority is the health and safety of its employees, contractors and the public. Focusing only on essential work and critical milestones will help reduce the number of workers staying at the accommodation lodge and result in fewer workers travelling to and from Fort St. John and the Peace Region.

Over the coming days, BC Hydro plans to work with project contractors and unions to scale back certain construction activities at the project site. One of the areas that will continue to be prioritized is work required to achieve river diversion in fall 2020. Other essential work — such as keeping the site secure and meeting the project’s environmental commitments — will continue as planned. In addition, work will continue in off-site areas off-site (such as work on the transmission line and reservoir clearing), as the majority of these workers do not stay in the accommodation lodge.

BC Hydro did not indicate how much these revised measures could affect the construction and completion timeline for the project.

According to a press release, BC Hydro has implemented a number of measures to protect its employees, contractors and facilities, including working closely with the Northern Health Authority on its protocols at the accommodation lodge and to ensure the on-site health clinic is fully stocked. Additional measures taken include more frequent cleaning and disinfecting, restricting non-essential travel and postponing on-site tours and meetings.