COMOX, BC--(Marketwired - September 12, 2016) - Opponents of BC's $8.8 billion site C dam claim that the project is on shaky ground financially, environmentally, socially, and constitutionally. As lawyers representing two Treaty 8 First Nations go before the federal Court of Appeal in Montreal today over treaty rights, others are raising concerns about the dam's physical foundation.
In a recent article in the Watershed Sentinel, "Site C Slides," Arthur Hadland outlines the "known geotechnical problems" with BC's $8.8 billion Site C dam and asks, "are we really going to build a dam on mud?" He questions the foresight of BC Hydro and the BC government in pushing ahead with the project, adding his voice to the growing call for an independent review of the project by the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC).
Hadland argues that "Taxpayers are unintentionally paying for the largest environmental and economic catastrophe of BC's 21st century," referencing BC Hydro's own report to the BCUC as well as a 1991 report from the Geological Survey Branch of British Columbia that was commissioned to examine aggregate exploitation within the lower Peace River region. The latter concluded that "Valley slopes throughout the region are subject to slope failure and colluviation, and the development of these sites should be minimized." BC Hydro's report acknowledged numerous issues including "unexpected slope failure on the project's north bank, larger than expected deterioration of shale bedrock exposed during construction, and a phenomenon called rock-exposed swell."
Heavy rains in July compromised the north slope of the Site C dam construction site, raising concerns about the possibility for winter storms and spring thaw to do even more damage. Hadland reminds the reader of what has happened to projects built on geologically questionable sites, citing the The Teton Dam disaster of 1976, the 2014 Mt. Polley tailings pond dam disaster, and the failure of the Peace River bridge at Taylor in October 1957, caused by the failure of the shale bedrock base on the north side of the Peace River.
Hadland reminds us that there not yet been any outside examination of the situation and argues: "These [geotechnical] factors and the professional opinions employed by BC Hydro need to be examined in detail regarding the safety of human activities surrounding and within the proposed reservoir."
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