Site C dam's main builder fined $1.1M for polluting B.C. river

Site C dam's main builder fined $1.1M for polluting B.C. river
Site C dam's main builder fined $1.1M for polluting B.C. river 3 August 2023 06:35 PM: The main contractor in charge of constructing the Site C hydroelectric dam project near Fort St. John in northeastern B.C. has been hit with a $1.1 million fine for dumping contaminated drainage water into the Peace River.

The penalty was imposed after Peace River Hydro Partners pleaded guilty in provincial court in Fort St. John on Monday to depositing a deleterious substance into fish-bearing waters, a violation of the federal Fisheries Act, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada,

The federal agency says its enforcement officers discovered that in 2018, the contractor discharged 3,300 cubic metres of drainage water with a high concentration of metals into the Peace River due to their water treatment system's inadequate capacity.

"A sample of the drainage water collected on Sept. 9, 2018, determined that it contained a concentration of aluminum that was acutely lethal to fish," said Environment and Climate Change Canada in a news release on Wednesday.

$1.75-billion contract with Clean Energy Project 

Peace River Hydro Partners is a partnership between Spanish company ACCIONA Infrastructure and South Korean company Samsung C&T. Their $1.75-billion civil works contract with the Site C Clean Energy Project includes building a 1,050-metre-long dam above the Peace River.

This is not the first time the contractor has faced penalties.

In 2020, Peace River Hydro Partners were fined nearly $1 million for serious safety violations that WorkSafeBC classified as "high risk." These violations included an incident where a worker was shocked with 1,000 volts of electricity and potential exposure of workers to dangerous silica dust.

The Site C dam, once complete, will be B.C.'s largest infrastructure project. It's now projected to cost more than $16 billion, making it the most expensive public infrastructure project in the province's history.

B.C. Hydro started construction on the Site C Dam mega-project in 2015.

CBC News contacted Peace River Hydro Partners for a comment on the court decision, but it declined to provide one.

B.C. Hydro provided an emailed statement that said it examined the contractor's water treatment system following the heavy-metal discharge into the Peace River and has taken measures to prevent future incidents.

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