By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily
Construction begins this week on the Waneta Expansion Project as the $900-million powerhouse addition to Teck’s Waneta Dam starts in earnest.
Crews are working to remove “overburden” in anticipation of blasting for the new powerhouse intake and adit portal areas, according to a press release from the Columbia Power Coporation.
The last four months have involved preparing the powerhouse site for construction by the prime contractor, SNC-Lavalin Inc.
The company has removed existing infrastructure from the site of the future powerhouse and new security fencing has been installed to divide the construction site from the existing Waneta Dam.
“Brushing and grubbing to remove trees and underbrush has occurred at the project site and sub-contractors have commenced excavation of the intake and adit portal areas,” the release said.
Work also has been going on at the office complex site for the project, three kilometres north of the construction site on Highway 22A across from the Trail Airport.
The office site has been leveled and fenced with all services — including water, gas and septic systems — being installed. A 530-space parking lot has been constructed where workers will park and then be bussed to the powerplant construction site.
Over $162 million in wages over a four-and-a-half year period will be poured into the West Kootenay region as a result of the workforce the expansion will create.
The expansion is also projected to pump $178 million into the local economy through the purchase of goods and services.
In September an agreement in principle was reached between the Columbia Power Corporation and the Columbia Basin Trust with Fortis Inc. for the construction of a second powerhouse adjacent to Teck's Waneta Dam.
The deal will see BC Hydro buy all the 630 Gigawatt-hours of electricity and associated capacity, while FortisBC will buy the remaining 234 Megawatts of capacity from the 335 Megawatt plant.
Fortis Inc. owns 51 per cent of the proposed structure within the partnership, while Columbia Power and CBT own the remainder.
For further information on the project, visit www.columbiapower.org/wanetaexpansion.