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Site C workers in isolation

Sixteen Site C workers are self-isolating with flu-like symptoms, the Vancouver Sun reported today. There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on site, and it's unclear how many workers have been tested.
sitec
Diversion tunnel inlet portals at Site C, February 2020. The tower structures will house the mechanical gates required to control water flows into the tunnels.

Sixteen Site C workers are self-isolating with flu-like symptoms, the Vancouver Sun reported today.

There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on site, and it's unclear how many workers have been tested.

“Testing procedures are being completed in accordance with current public health guidelines established by the Ministry of Health, which state that not everyone requires testing,” said Hydro spokeswoman Tanya Fish in a statement.

The workers are staying in a 30-room dormitory, used strictly for those self isolating, with four addional similar-sized dorms available for workers in self isolation.

“We are working closely with (the Northern Health Authority) and in the event there are any confirmed cases, we will notify the appropriate health officials and take their guidance,” Fish said.

BC Hydro said March 18 it would be scaling back construction on the project. Work on the diversion tunnels continues, to meet a fall deadline, while work also carries on to realign Highway 29, build the transmission line, and clear the valley and future reservoir.

B.C. Hydro has sent 350 workers home since the scale-back was announced on March 18, and more workers are expected to be sent home this weekend.

One worker who was sent home this week said they missed several shifts because an existing health condition left them especially vulnerable to catching the coronavirus.

“Any time we raise our concerns to management we are told to stop panicking and wash our hands,” the worker said, who requested anonymity.

“I’m sorry but that just isn’t satisfying to me.”

They worried about the tight working conditions on site.

“Several times a week, they fly in another 600 people from all over Canada with so much as a screening or question asked,” they said.

“I think this camp is a disaster waiting to happen and fear that if BC Hydro’s plan is to wait until people start getting sick before they act, it will be too late, and people will pay with their lives.”

BC Hydro says it has been monitoring global COVID-19 developments since January, and measures are in place to limit its potential spread at the construction site and work camp.

That includes restrictions on non-essential employee travel and the postponement of non-essential site tours, meetings, and on-site training. The camp gymnasium and theatre have also been closed, and self-serve dining stations have been eliminated.

BC Hydro said work will continue on Highway 29 realignments, the transmission line, and reservoir clearing because "the majority of these workers do not stay in the worker accommodation lodge." 

Email managing editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca