*** updated @ 2:30 pm : a copy of the report in question can be accessed in PDF format( scanned copies) following this post.
Considering it’s an election, and Run of the River projects have been a debate point for both parties, one would think that a headline like the one above would be front page news. But oh no, where was this little gem located?
Buried in the Technology section of the CBC website.
I can see why this would be important news that certain members of the government may NOT want us to hear about. After all , Gordon Campbell and his Libs have been telling us all along how great Run of the River projects are. Alex, in my comments section was just extolling the virtues of independent power projects.
Maybe Carol James can help out here, because I would like to ask the premier and the environment minister – RIGHT NOW – why it is that the people of British Columbia have to wait until after May 12th to hear more about the documents released to the CBC. The documents obtained under the FOI act, show that some Run of the River projects have been found to be using ” sloppy construction that could damage streams” and ” overcutting old-growth forests.
One forestry official involved was quoted as having said: ” I am becoming increasingly nervous about the lack of attention to the projects.”
????????????????????????????????????? Nervous? Not a good choice of words. Not reassurring at all, considering we’ve been getting the spin that these projects are not in the least harmful to the environment, streams or fish.
And what is it about this line that disturbs me?
” …email s also showed inspection officials had little faith in Kiewit, the construction company hired by Cloudworks to build the projects, saying it had a reputation for failing to comply with regulations.”
Wow – woudn’t this be the same Kiewit that seems to win a good majority of government project bids? Like the Port Mann project? And they allegedly have a reputation for failing to comply with regulations? ( gulp)
BUT, what really kills me here is the last line of the article:
“Government officials involved in the strike teams say they can’t discuss what they found until after next week’s provincial election.”
Of course not. Gordon Campbell wouldn’t have it any other way.
See the full story below, and link to read it on CBC to follow the commentary:
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 6, 2009 | 2:39 PM ET Comments81Recommend64
Inspection reports and emails obtained by CBC News show B.C. government officials have raised concerns about environmental infractions during the construction of the rapidly growing number of run-of-river private power projects in the province.
In one email obtained by CBC News, a forestry official involved wrote, “I am becoming increasingly nervous about the lack of attention to the projects.”
Last fall, inspectors from the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Forests and Range — who dubbed themselves “strike teams” — dropped in on the construction sites of several private run-of-river hydro projects.
The eventual reports by the strike team obtained by CBC News through a Freedom of Information Act request noted at four sites, the inspectors found serveral violations of the expected best management practices and the construction environmental management plan, including:
Sloppy construction that could damage streams.
Overcutting old-growth forest.
Inadequate sewage treatment at work camps.
Construction during bird breeding season.
Replanting with non-native species.
No one was charged or fined for the violations.
Other email obtained by CBC News shows that at the time of the inspections, the company behind the projects complained in several emails that the scrutiny was redundant and interfered with construction.
When interviewed by CBC News, Jackie Hamilton, a vice-president with Cloudworks Energy, stood by her complaint.
“You’re going to find the odd thing. I don’t think they found serious issues, and of course any issues they found were immediately fixed,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton even questioned the use of the term strike team, saying, “It implied that somehow we were doing something that needed disciplining.”
But email also showed inspection officials had little faith in Kiewit, the construction company hired by Cloudworks to build the projects, saying it had a reputation for failing to comply with regulations.
The projects were designed to generate electricity on remote creeks and rivers, without the large environmental footprint of conventional hydroelectric dams, by drawing power from seasonal flows.
But the projects and inspection results are also generating a lot of debate about their environmental impacts and benefits, particularly their effect on salmon runs, making them a key issue during the provincial election campaign.
Marvin Rosenau, a former senior fisheries biologist with the B.C. government, said while the issues may seem minor, they trigger alarm bells.
“It says to me they’re cavalier about how they do business — ‘We’re a powerful industry there. The rules don’t quite apply to us like everybody else. We can just go ahead and do whatever we want’,'” said Rosenau.
Gwen Barlee, a policy director with the Wilderness Committee, said the reports suggest the environmental impact of private power is being kept from the public.
“That’s consistent with what the Wilderness Committee has heard, that there’s corners being cut and it appears from the documents [acquired by CBC] there’s been ongoing problems,” said Barlee.
“I think it’s kind of sad that we need a strike team for private power projects. It’s a reflection on the lack of planning and the fact that these projects are coming on fast and furious,” said Barlee.
Government officials involved in the strike teams say they can’t discuss what they found until after next week’s provincial election.
With files from Curt Petrovich
( Hello to all the blog visitors this morning( Friday May 8th) from Peter Kiewit, and the very high profile, stratetic PR firm, Levick … thanks for pumping those stats up! Oh, and don’t let me forget everyone in Victoria – hows the weather today guys? )