British Columbia

COVID-19 outbreak declared at Site C megaproject

Thirty-four lab-confirmed cases have been identified. Of those, 13 are active, and 100 workers are isolating at home or on site. Northern Health says work on the megaproject can continue.

Northern Health says work at the dam construction site in northeast B.C. can continue

Construction at the Site C dam job site in northern B.C. has continued during the COVID-19 pandemic as it's considered an essential service. (Site C Clean Energy Project)

Northern Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak among workers at BC Hydro's Site C dam project in northeast B.C. 

Thirty-four lab-confirmed cases have been identified. Of those, 13 are active, and 100 workers are isolating at home or on site. 

Northern Health says the outbreak is limited to several clusters and, as a result, work on the dam project does not need to stop.

"Declaring the outbreak at Site C is a precautionary approach," said Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Jong Kim. "We do not think the transmission is across the site."

BC Hydro says the outbreak is mainly among employees of Peace River Hydro Partners, the main civil works contractor on the megaproject.

According to BC Hydro, there are currently 1,448 workers at the camp. 

There are 13 active COVID-19 cases at the construction site, where nearly 1,500 people are currently working. (Christer Waara/CBC)

"When the cases initially emerged, we decided to take proactive measures to isolate the entire crew related to these cases," said B.C. Hydro Director Shanna Mason.

"We've already implemented a number of the steps recommended by northern Health," she said. 

They include posting more information and support for workers, identifying symptoms early, and continuing with their vaccination program.

Vaccination efforts

Mason said about 1,500 of the project's more than 3,000 total employees have been vaccinated.

She said some have received vaccines through community-based clinics, while others have gotten shots designated for industrial site workers.

Northern Health says the effort to vaccinate people in work camps was slowed due to the province's guidelines for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. 

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kim said they are looking at ways to mass vaccinate the rest of the project's workers as quickly as possible.

There have been 93 confirmed COVID-19 cases at the camp since March 2020.

The outbreak declaration will remain in place for at least 28 days. 

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