FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Site C Dam Project has accelerated through the past year with its share of obstacles and circumstances, but the entire project is past the 50 per cent completion mark.

Early in the new year, the B.C. government announced a revised budget for the project of $16 billion and a revised in-service date of 2025. Site C Project Communications Manager, Anna Deeley, says the revisions were due to a number of factors.

“The revised budget and schedule address significant cost pressures and delays faced by the project due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the right bank foundation enhancements and other cost pressures being managed by the project prior to COVID-19,” said Deeley.

With COVID-19 impacting every part of day-to-day life, Deeley says Site C was hit hard by the two outbreaks declared in April and August.

“The cases were a combination of workplace transmission at the project and community transmission from outside of the project, and in the August outbreak, a substantial majority of the workers testing positive were not vaccinated. The project continues to operate under health orders related to industrial camps and large projects.”

Deeley says the other significant challenge faced in 2021 was the work needed to respond to the geotechnical issues on the right bank. Significant foundation enhancements were needed to increase the stability of the bedrock under the right bank.

“These enhancements include the installation of large piles to further extend the foundation deeper into the bedrock and changes to the design of the approach channel above the powerhouse and spillways. During the last quarter of the year, installation of the steel piles began; as of November 30, crews had installed 23 of the 96 piles.”

Despite these challenges, Deeley says the project made significant advances through a busy summer construction season and is past the 50 per cent complete milestone.

Placing concrete in the powerhouse, intakes and spillways as well as the installation of the penstock segments progressed through the year, and the steel structure for the powerhouse was recently completed.

The dam core and buttress was mostly completed in the fall, marking the final completion of the roller-compacted concrete program.

“In total, since 2017, crews placed nearly 1.7 million cubic metres of roller-compacted concrete in the combined powerhouse, spillways and dam and core buttresses.”

Looking ahead to 2022, Deeley says the main focus will be on placement of material in the earthfill dam, excavating the approach channel and installing components in the recently-completed powerhouse.

“We anticipate COVID-19 will continue to have an impact on the project in 2022; we remain committed to working closely with health officials and our contractors to ensure work on the project can safely continue.”