Close to three kilometers of tunnels have been blasted and associated rock removed for the John Hart Dam. Kendall Hanson reports. 

With close to 500 workers in any given month, the construction site for the new John Hart Dam is a busy place.

One of the contractors has just finished blasting out the project’s tunnels and removing the associated rock.

“That’s basically removing about 300,000 cubic meters of rock, enough rock to fill 120 Olympic-sized swimming pools,” BC Hydro’s Stephen Watson said. 

The blasting and removal took two-and-a-half years. When they are complete, the tunnels will carry water to the underground generating station and then back to the Campbell River.

Other tunnels will allow workers to access the generating station.

“Everything’s underground. It’s seismically strong,” Watson said. “[It’s] much more reliable with the new facility and it protects downstream fish habitat by having a water bypass facility within the powerhouse itself.”

“Having completed the underground excavation is a major achievement for us and a milestone for the project,” Paul Sawyer, InPower BC’s president and CEO, said. “We’re really pleased that we’re able to get that done in a timely matter.”

BC Hydro said the project is on time and on budget

The blasting and rock removal was a project risk so the utility and the contractors are glad to have that section completed.

“We’ve reached more than 2.2 million man hours on this project to date without a loss time accident which is what we’re really proud of,” Sawyer said. 

Worker’s are now focusing on the electrical and mechanical side of the project.

The finished project will be able to generate 10 per cent more electricity than the old one, powering 80,000 homes.

BC Hyrdo said it expects the new John Hart Dam and generating station will start operating in the fall of 2018.

BC Hydro has more information on the project here. 

Kendall Hanson