This week on Terra Informa, we’re bringing you a whole show dedicated to one topic: the Site C mega dam proposed for British Columbia’s Peace River region. With an 8 billion dollar price tag, and coming with weighty cultural and environmental impacts, this dam proposal hasn’t been given an easy ride.
It was four years ago that the BC government decided to put the dam to regulatory review. Now, in the fall of 2014, they are on the cusp of announcing their final decision—we’re expecting it some time in November.
To prepare for this decision, we want to brush up on this controversial project. So for yours and ours listening pleasure, here’s a damn good special Terra Informa put together back in May of 2010.
An Outline of the Most Controversial Dams
Big dams are some of the greatest feats of engineering humanity has ever achieved, capturing giant rivers for electricity generation and irrigation projects. But the social and environmental impact of such projects has been enormous. Reservoirs flood vast areas, often displacing thousands, or in the case of the biggest dams, millions of people. Pristine ecosystems have been altered fundamentally. And although enthusiasm for big dams has ebbed slightly in more recent decades, construction, and the associated controversy, continues apace. The world’s rivers have tens of thousands of big dams, and today David Kaczan takes us on a tour of some of the biggest, the most interesting and the most hotly protested including the Yangtze Three Gorges Project (China), the Itaipu Dam (Brazil/Paraguay) and the The Sardar Sarovar Dam (India).
Links: World Commission on Dams, Three Gorges Dam Issues and Problems (WCD), China’s Three Gorges Dam: An Environmental Catastrophe?, Scientific American, The Sardar Sarovar Case (International Environmental Law Research Center) The Sardar Sarovar Dam, Environmental History of the Franklin River, Syncrude Tailings Dam (Wikipedia), List of the World’s Biggest Dams
Site C Hydro Project
A few years ago, the BC Government approved the Site C hydro project. It’s a kilometre-long dam that’s long been proposed for the Peace River in the north of the province. BC Hydro describes it as a clean energy project that will provide enough power for 400 000 homes — helping the province meet rising energy demands, without greenhouse gas emmisions. With current concerns over global warming, that sounds like exactly the sort of project the planet needs. But local residents are calling foul. They say it’s anything but an panacea and cite a whole list of environmental concerns. Steve talked to residents of the area who have organized a group called Citizens United to Save The Peace(CUSP), Gwen Barlee of the Wilderness Committee, and BC Hydro.
Links: What is Site C? (BC Hydro), Treaty 8 Disgusted By British Columbia’s Plan To Remove Site C Dam From Oversight (indigenouspeoplesissues.com), Natives plan to fight Site C dam planned for Peace River By Matthew Burrows, Straight.com, Wilderness Committee says no Dam Way to Site C Proposal, MLA says Site C will power the oil and natural gas industry By Dwight Ford, Energetic City, Site C Impacts on Humans (CUSP), Perspectives on the Potential Site C Dam