Friday, October 06, 2017

SiteC....Now I Get It: Official Reports On Actual Events Count More Than The Actual Events Themselves.


I remember the reports from last winter from folks on the ground about the cracks in the banks of the Peace River being a real problem with the dam(n) building preparations.

But mostly I remember the photographs.

Photos like this:

And I also remember that the implications of these cracks for things like missed deadlines and cost overruns (not to mention outright safety) were widely discussed on the blogs, especially over at Laila's place.

Weirdly, however, there was little discussion of all this in the proMedia at the time.

Which is something that really confused me given how important this appeared to be, even for someone as geotechnically challenged as myself.

But I think I understand all that now.


Because, as is very much in evidence in Mr. Palmer's latest column, pushished today in the Vancouver Sun, nothing is real for the local proMedia types covering such matters until and unless it is written up in an official report.

To wit:

...The (Site C) contract, over budget and behind schedule from the outset, has been eating through its share of the project contingency fund at an alarming rate.

But just as those details were being made public last week via an uncensored copy of a report by Deloitte LLP consultants, senior B.C. Hydro executives were meeting with the main civil works contractor.

The Sept. 27 showdown focused on a series of problems, mainly arising from two tension cracks on the left bank of the river.

The first crack opened up in February, forcing a 10-week delay in construction. Barely was that contained when a second crack opened up on the same bank in early May.

“Work continued in the area until July 2017 when it was stopped by wet weather,” according to B.C. Hydro’s followup to the O’Riley letter.

“B.C. Hydro and the contractor worked collaboratively to develop a solution to remediate the second tension crack and the contractor commenced these remediation efforts, but production through August and September was below plan.”

B.C. Hydro and the contractor then tried to recover lost time via a joint review of the construction schedule. But the effort failed to reach a consensus.

“The review identified options to maintain river diversion by 2019, but the parties were unable to reach agreement on the schedule, options and allocation of cost.”...


The myopic blinders of officialdom, it would appear that they burn.

Or at least obscure all acknowledgement and/or understanding of actual events such that no political price is paid for what those actual events actually mean at the time that they actually happen.

If you get my drift.

Put another, snark-free way....Why does this myopia really matter?....Well, ask yourself the following...What if the BC Liberals had prevailed in May and there had been no change in officialdom?....Would this mean that Dean et al. (and thus the great majority of the the BC citizenry) would still think that everything is going along swimmingly with Site C?... If your answer, like mine is 'yes', you will also understand that this means we would be buying yet another SparklePony fantasy all over again, except this time with real money....And, here, right on schedule, is a little proof to stir into that pudding.
A smaller,  tangential question has just popped into my half-empty suitcase of a pre-Thanksgiving weekend mind...Will these new fangled 'official' releases lead Mr. Palmer to re-think his previously stated position that the firing of the Golden Era BC Hydro CEO by the Dippers was a lousy idea?...For the record, here is the editorial kicker from the Dean's column at the time (i.e. July 2017): "....(Hydro CEO Jessica) McDonald departs with a severance package of half a million dollars and every likelihood that she’d land a position elsewhere that will make Horgan look ridiculous..."
Finally, if you want a better, more in-depth  analysis of what the latest Site C revelations actually really do mean, go read Norm's latest.



Chuckstraight said...

Sure makes one wonder what has been going on for the past sixteen years.

Lew said...

In this piece in November 2016, Laila posted photos and descriptions of large cracks (one of them the photo included above). Also linked to similar information from the summer of 2016. She wondered, “…why no one else in the media was asking any questions about what’s going on up there and how much this is costing beyond the scope of the contract:”

In this piece a couple of weeks later, Vaughn Palmer described spending most of his day being driven around by the construction manager on an actual visit to Site C. Vaughn was impressed by the security, wall map schedules, and the work camp; not so much the large cracks which must have been present. He did say his vast experience led him to be skeptical of the budget and completion date. Ron Obvious must have begun fearing for his title at that point.

Now Vaughn informs his readers that the first crack opened up in February of 2017, and the contract has been over budget and behind schedule from the outset.

Maybe Vaughn should stick to political gossip and surmising, and let Sam Cooper do the investigative work.

Keith. said...

Meanwhile, another $610 million in over runs.

Kim said...

Laila and Norman have really done us a public service on this and many other files. Lew, your comment above is brilliant! Especially the last sentence.

Anonymous said...

If NDP dont cancel and Greens dont insist it will become fast ferries times 20X and even though NDP didnt start the process they will lose the next BC election in 3 and 1/2 years.--And wait another 16 years to ..

e.a.f. said...

At the time Palmer wrote his comment regarding MacDonald's firing, he most likely was still in denial that the B.C. lieberals were no longer in office. he has since realized Christy is truly gone, gone, gone and may stay gone.

Firing MacDonald may have cost $500K but at least we are rid of her. If we weren't we most likely would still have the B.C. Lieberals and on our way to having a dam which would have cost over $20billion and would at some time in the not so distant future crack and flood a whole lot of the province. Keeping McDonald would simply not have worked given her "attachment" to the B.C. lieberals and that dam dam.

It will be less expensive to close the thing down and return the land to its previous owners and that is the end of it. We can add a turbine to one of the other dams and get on with live. the money which would have been wasted on the dam can be used on other things, you know like hospitals, schools, etc. so the trades will continue to have employment.

Lew does have a good suggestion about Palmer and Cooper. here's another one: palmer retires and Cooper takes over.

Anonymous said...

The money spent on site C up to this point has not been a total loss since it provided employment and wages for construction workers. And the work to repair the site will provide further employment. Granted, that's an expensive job creation scheme but the current loss is not as large as some people claim. However, a 12 billion job creation program cannot be justified. The project should be terminated now and losses reduced to a minimum.

Not a happy camper said...

I have a great idea. We should wait until the lieberals get back in power and let them complete the dam. They at that time can contract the job out to Mt Polly mine staff they have a good track record. The lieberals can get Mr Bennett to do the inspections. On budget on time what more can we ask for. For &%#$ sakes scrap it now....

Scotty on Denman said...

It wasn’t possible to state louder or more clearly that the BC Liberals’ assault on BC Hydro was the biggest scam since the BC government declared Aboriginal sovereign claims to have been extinguished by confederation. Bigger than the corrupt sale of BC Rail. Site-C being the $2 billion elephant on top, without rationale and thus entirely decorative.

I suppose Palmer’s three-monkey technique is neatly coordinated to work for both him and the defeated BC Liberal government: there was no official report from government, so he claims he never heard of all the fuck-ups going on, and the BC Liberals never heard anything about it, either, from their bought-and-paid-for mainstream news media. Gosh, must’ve thought we were stupid, or something.

Except independent social media, citizens, former hydro executives, First Nations, NGOs, and the Official Opposition have been screaming the facts into the BC Liberals’ ear for years and years. If ever there was an open and shut case for prosecuting a massive, massive breach of public trust, this is it.

The evidence has probably been tampered with by the departing ex-government in an attempt to hide it, now those complexities doubtless requiring careful time to prepare for legal action. Proceedings should be part of the daily news and on everybody’s lips in time for the next election. If people get the clear, official dope on what the BC Liberals have done to them, they’ll never get elected again, not even to the office of dog catcher.

RossK said...


Me thinks you were channelling Rafe with that one.

Which is a very good thing, indeed.


cfvua said...

Real losses on this project, if terminated soon will not total what we have been lead to believe.
I direct everyone to Table 3 Section 4 of BCHydro's initials submission to the BCUC. Which shows moneys spent as percentages of budgeted amounts as of June 30, 2017. Details of what is included in each line are located below the table. Uppermost amount is $562 Million which includes all physical activities on the project, other than some clearing that is listed on a line below. This amount represents 16% of budgeted total of $3.55 Million for those activities.
Which would suggest that it would cost substantially less than BCHydro suggests to put the site to safe and at least as stable as it ever was. Even if the remaining 51% of the construction management budget was used.
Keep in mind that much of the remedial work has been done as the project progressed, especially on roadways and some of the waste dump areas.
The table shows $366 Million for regulatory activities which is 100% of budget. The information learned in those studies can be used for other activities and would not all be a loss. Agricultural, environmental and other studies are included.
Information put forward at the BCUC has the contractor looking for $330 Million additional and a 435 day delay on their original bid of $1.75Billion. And we are told that the contingencies are mostly used. Now consider that about $70 Million of the 562 was spent on the North Bank Prep project. Voith and other supplier/contractors have also likely been paid out of the 562, so PRHP is probably somewhere in the $450 Million or less range and already this far behind and in major dispute with owner. Will they cut and run?
It would appear that the number to shelve the project is being inflated. There are other savings as well. Most of the off site works listed on line 2 at $46 Million included much needed local road and power line improvements. Sewer lagoons built for the camp could be used for a suburban area of Fort St John that has none, even though that piece is part of the camp contract.
Large aggregate and quarried rock stockpiles could be used for other public infrastructure projects in the area that are in urgent need. There are no doubt other areas of re-purposing of assets that can occur.
It would be nice to have the latest facts, without the BCHydro spin.