Statement from Dr. Bob Schubak, BC Hydro Director of Dam Safety
BC Hydro’s top priority is the safety of the public and our employees. We safely operate and maintain 82 dams at 40 locations across the province, and have done so for decades.
We do not consider current fracking operations in the Peace region to pose a risk to the stability of our dams, which are built to withstand larger seismic events that are much longer in duration than those associated with fracking.
BC Hydro is recognized worldwide as a leader in the safe operation and management of dams. Our rigorous dam safety program meets or exceeds the requirements of the BC Dam Safety Regulation, and a 2018 audit concluded that our dam safety program is well-established and is in line with international practices.
We conduct 24/7 monitoring using thousands of instruments to collect data about the performance of our dams. Our W.A.C. Bennett and Peace Canyon dams, like all our facilities, are visually checked weekly and are inspected by dam safety professionals twice a year.
These facilities are also subject to regular reviews by international and independent professionals that are experts in dam safety. The most recent independent dam safety reviews of Peace Canyon and W.A.C. Bennett were performed in 2018 and both facilities were confirmed safe. The review for the Peace Canyon Dam confirmed that BC Hydro has demonstrated a “pro-active and responsible approach” to the dam safety hazards and risk presented by oil and gas exploration and development activity.
The Site C dam is also being built to the highest dam safety standards and to withstand extremely rare earthquake ground motions that are expected to occur only once every ten thousand years. We have the expertise of international dam engineers working on the project and the unique nature of the Peace Region is a key consideration in the design and construction of project.
We’re continuing to work with seismic specialists and researchers to review ground motion data related to fracking activity in the region, and using this knowledge to continue to improve the safety of our facilities in the province.
Over the next 10 years, we’re investing around $2 billion in dam safety upgrades at our facilities across the province. This includes seismic upgrades at Peace Canyon and W.A.C. Bennett dams to make these facilities even safer.