Work progressing at John Hart Generating Station

The month of March brought continuing progress and the completion and beginning of some work at the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project site.

The underground work of the project, which began in early 2015 and will continue until the end of 2018, largely focused in the later stages on the long power tunnel.

“The first two years or more, it is essentially like a mining operation to carve out all that rock, through drilling and blasting, so we can then build the new hydroelectric facilities,” BC Hydro’s Stephen Watson says in BC Hydro’s March Community Construction Update.

More than one kilometre of tunneling was completed in 2015 and all the tunneling work is planned for completion around the end of 2017.

Watson reports that work is progressing well at this point in time.

The new water intake cofferdam is complete.

“That was a really important element to the project in terms of project risk,” Watson said Wednesday. “We’re putting in a cofferdam, an upstream attachment to the John Hart dam. To have these piles put in place and two silt curtains to protect the water quality, it’s a great achievement by InPower BC.”

Watson says the contractors are now starting to remove the rock where the water will move.

In the surge tank area, they’ve removed all the soils and overburden and will start on the rock later this summer.

“The three tall white surge towers provide pressure protection for the penstocks; this surge tank provides the same purpose for the tanks,” said Watson.

In terms of the next project milestone, Watson says it would probably be the rock removal process from the powerhouse cavern, which should be complete around early May.

“The cavern is as long as an NFL field and 40 metres deep,” he said. “It’s really a pretty incredible sight to be within that powerhouse cavern, just the size of it.”

Watson says that when the rock removal is completed in the powerhouse cavern, they can start to work on the actual facility, bringing in new trades and subcontractors.

InPower BC (SNC-Lavalin), Aecon and Frontier-Kemper are the main contractors doing this work.

“[They’re] doing a fantastic job,” said Watson. “It’s a challenging job. Their safety record is very good. To date, there hasn’t been any lost-time accidents. Overall, we’re very pleased with how it’s coming. The project is really taking shape, granted it’s all underground.”

At the same time as the John Hart Generating Station work is going on, work is moving forward on the City of Campbell River’s water supply upgrade project.

In March, the city began working on the second phase of the project, in which the city contractor is placing the new water pipe along Brewster Lake Road before eventually moving off the road and toward the future pumphouse and water treatment building near the reservoir shoreline, according to the BC Hydro report.

People are again being asked to obey traffic control in this area when entering the Elk Falls and John Hart Project Interpretive Centre parking lot. Access to the parking lot will remain open during this work.