What the Liberals don’t want you to find out until AFTER election day: Documents Obtained By CBC News show Run of the River projects are breaking environmental regulations

*** 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:

http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2009/05/06/bc-environmental-inspections-private-power-projects.html

Run-of-river power projects breach environment regulations: documents

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 6, 2009 | 2:39 PM ET Comments81Recommend64

CBC News

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.

Violations not serious, says company

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.

Environmentalists concerned by findings

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

 

Click here to read that report NOW:     scan 4 ( pdf format scanned copies)

 

( 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? )

13 Comments on “What the Liberals don’t want you to find out until AFTER election day: Documents Obtained By CBC News show Run of the River projects are breaking environmental regulations

  1. Its true that this industry had better realize how delicate its window of opportunity is here.
    That said, its also true that when regulation is hyper-driven and singles out a particular industry, that infractions are almost certain to be discovered. The same could be said for nearly any condo tower or BC Hydro construction project, for that matter.

    Hopefully the companies involved will avoid further obvious blunders (like re-planting with non-native plants), and not-so-obvious (construction during bird breeding, don’t quite understand how this interferes), regulations.

  2. As to the commentor above (Randyn), I consider concern trolls a lower form of life and waste of bandwidth, but thanks for your concern. There must be some BC ConLib Fluff or Steven Harper attack whoever is leading the real Liberals today literature from your mailbox that you need to get back to now…..nice hearing from you.

    Laila:

    Do you think they might let us know anything, anything at all, before May 13, if there is anything in BC that isn’t “before the courts”

    – like the legally delinquent numbers for fiscal 2008 re: the Great White Elephant Northern Development Trust,

    IPP strike team findings,

    or even the incidental cosmetic expenses for various invisible women required to stroke Gordon’s ego and other things
    – if we threaten to hold our breath and stomp our little feet?

    Nah, I guess it’s better if we’re aren’t confused by anything resembling facts when we step into the voting booth – in the interests of Gordo’s re-election at least.

    My brain is starting to hurt from trying to guess how. if Gordo gets another license to loot on May 12 (shudder), they will manage to blame any shortcomings of the Pirate Power Ponzi Scheme to kill off BC Hydro on those evil Dippers. I know in my heart that if those nasty NDP dudes and dudettes would all just go somewhere, anywhere, and leave Gord alone that it would only take a week or two for BC to become such a paradise that neither X-tian nor Islamic Fundies would want to die and leave this paradise to live in a dump like heaven (by comparison to the “bestest place on earth” of course).

    Then one day there would be a bad storm, wildfire, earthquake or some such calamity left behind as a booby trap by dem damn Dippers, of course. Even that doesn’t scare me though, cause I know King Gord will save me from whatever with the leadership he displayed in the Lobby the other day!

  3. “Hamilton even questioned the use of the term strike team, saying, “It implied that somehow we were doing something that needed disciplining.”

    Heaven forbid that any members of the circle be subjected to anything as distasteful as oversight or any expectation of compliance to any standards above and beyond the (fraudulent accounting derived) bottom line. Just look at what recent over zealous regulation has done to Wall Street and the Big Time Loan Sharks other wise known as the Big Mortgage Lending Gang.

    • ” But emails 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. ”
      Kiewit…..holder of more than a few government contracts, no? Wow. Surprise Surprise. Heres a link to the announcement of the IPP contract award to Kiewit :
      http://www.journalofcommerce.com/article/id30899

  4. Thanks for this Laila, I think I pointed to this story at Mary’s and Ross’s yesterday as well as, if I recall, at Tyee….fine work….without FOI we’d know nothing, nada, about what’s happening at these construction sites.

    I imagine the Premier and his troops – most of whom don’t seem much interested in all candidates meetings – won’t be providing any clarification either.

    Inside the bureaucracy there is chaos – and not just the phony panic from Jessica’s office about the swine flu.

    Keep up the good work.

  5. Neglected to mention I also posted a comment about this at Bill Tieleman’s blog as well – cheers

    • Thanks G – I’ll have to check those out. A big thanks to Ivan for sending this my way, but one wonders why CBC would not have included this in their Election 2009 section? Clearly this is a story that people have a right to know about. The funny thing is that the goverment officials in question didn’t even try to come with another excuse about why they couldn’t comment – they just laid it all out there that this was not going to be talked about until after the election.

      The question is now, will we see this mentioned in THE SUN, Or THE PROVINCE? I sent a copy both the Michael Smyth and Vaughn Palmer.

  6. Good question about who’s sitting on their hands at the papers – but I suspect you were being rhetorical – if not ironic.

    As for the bureaucrats – I think I can answer that.

    They are running scared – I suspect every single department in government has been given a memo about the necessity for what should be called downsizing or layoffs – they actually have a euphemism for the practice – ‘redeployment’.

    These actions are targeted for completion by July 1.

    There is NO MONEY LEFT – and revenues are drying up.

    No one, repeat no one, is going to stick his or her head out now…; let me quote one short line from a memo sent out yesterday in one small branch office (where the ‘staffing challenge’ – another euphemism of course – amounts to a necessary budget reduction of almost $400,000.)…

    “…I want to share that the redeployment process is designed to provide staff with as much flexibility as possible and it is completely voluntary. Because the process is voluntary the management teak is not able to specifically identify people and positions for re-deployment. As a result, the re-deployment process creates an interesting management challenge as we see who ultimately chooses to be re-deployed and who does not.”

    Do you think ORWELL could have written anything better?

    I don’t! But of course Orwell was writing fiction!

    • ” Re-deployment”… that’s a new one for me!

      As for your last quote, may I suggest it comes from the same mindset as the US Department of Defense, who offer this definition for the term, Re-Deployment:
      “…The transfer of forces and materiel to support another joint force commander’s operational requirements, or to return personnel, equipment, and materiel to the home and/or demobilization stations for reintegration and/or out-processing. See also deployment.”

      Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. US Department of Defense 2005.

      In another interesting note, I had a visit to the blog this morning from the Privy Council Office. Perhaps they were interested in the bit of literature being passed around on the BC Liberal Americanization of BC’s Assets? One never knows.

      “Confuse and Diffuse” is the term I use to describe that writing style.

      • Interesting note that Kiewit has been spending quite a bit of time here today, as well as the very high profile, high stakes “strategic communications” ( read Public relations) firm of Levick

        Coincidence? Or is someone going to be putting in some overtime on this one?

  7. Did you pick up the details behind (apparently) Bot 186’s one second visits to Ross’s place…little outfit in the security and reputation protection business from Milton Ontario called RepuTrace (THX to Ross and Alison)…
    http://www.reputrace.com/login/

    The real story this morning in the provincial capitol is the buzz in the halls of government about how bad the economic situation ‘really’ is and how quickly the funny money budget of Finance Minister Hansen is going to disappear if the CEO gets into power.

    That little fiction will vanish as fast as the promise not to sell BC Rail did after 2001.

    • Yes, G West , that company is quite familiar with my postings as well. I’ve been lucky to have quite a few high profile co’s on board for a while, like National Public Relations, and The Wilcox group .

      This post has generated more hits from Kiewit and et al , than anything I’ve seen since my Teresen billing post. Not to mention the videos today seem to be keeping those in Victoria busy today… haha.

      I do find it interesting though, G, why it is that most people are not aware of how bad the situation really is. And how ridiculous it is everytime Gordon spouts off about his ability to keep BC strong. ( good luck with that one)

  8. All the silly spies and bots. A few years ago I wrote a letter to G.W. Bush regarding some environmental issues I thought he had wrong (imagine). Anyway after that my whole site (not the House) was visited and combed page by page each month by a CIA contractor in Fairfax or Arlington, Virginia. The funniest part was when I moved the whole site to a different server, and changed my domain name, for reasons unrelated to them and their visits, but the site remained exactly the same except for updating, it was as if they couldn’t find me anymore.

    Their visits just stopped dead. I kept meaning to send them an email and maybe apply for a job with them – as they apparently could use some talent. I guess they just lost interest in me, but the timing was certainly suspicious – if I hadn’t moved, they would be still visiting – I’m thinking. I had at the time some special password protected areas on the site, they tried to get in but failed – some spooks!

    By the way, according to GlowBall, the election is over all ready and Gordon and the drunk son of WAC- Bill, the apple that fell VERY far from that mighty tree, were strolling hand in hand through the vineyards and beaches of the OK Valley patting each other on their respective sleazy backs. GlowBall doesn’t deserve to avoid bankruptcy – they’ve been morally bankrupt for decades.