Trouble at old landslide forces Site C layoffs; 72 let go last week

Seventy-two workers were laid off from the Site C dam project last week because of a safety-related work stoppage caused by an old landslide, officials say. 

Movement at an old landslide on the north bank of the Peace River, where slope excavation work is ongoing, has forced the work stoppage.

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BC Hydro says there has been recent slope movement around a pre-existing slide on the north bank of the Peace River. 

“The Peace River Valley has many pre-existing slides and the design of the excavation on the north bank is planned so that all historic slides in the dam site area will be completely removed by excavation work,” spokesman David Conway said in a statement. 

“Recently, there was some slope movement in an area of a known pre-existing slide. Work was stopped while a plan was developed to safely remove the slide. Engineers have already reviewed this slide to ensure the excavation can continue safely and we expect work to resume shortly.”

Peace River Hydro Partners spokeswoman Amber Harding confirmed the layoffs. Most of the 72 workers who were laid off were heavy equipment operators and labourers, she said.

There is no timeline on when work will resume, Harding said.

“The layoff is not the same as a termination,” Harding said. “We may provide future opportunities for these workers once the crack has been addressed.”

Peace River Hydro Partners has more than 1,300 workers still on site, Harding said.

Josh Pastoor, regional director for the Christian Labour Association of Canada in Fort St. John, dismissed rumours the layoffs were the result of the new NDP minority government and its plans to have the $8.8-billion dam project reviewed.

“We’re hoping they can get back to work soon, there’s nothing immediate beyond that,” he said.

“I’ve had a lot of direct questions about that (the NDP government and review), and it’s a fair question to ask.”

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