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OPINION: Fracking induced earthquakes do not threaten the stability of BC Hydro’s dams

Chris O’Riley



BC Hydro’s top priority is the safety of the public and our employees, including the safe operation and maintenance of all our dams across the province.

Earthquakes induced by fracking and injection well activities are not large enough to pose a threat to the stability of our Peace region dams, including the Site C dam. The vast majority of these earthquakes are so small they can only be detected by very sensitive instruments.

There has been no damage – cracking or otherwise – at the Site C dam site caused by any of the recorded earthquakes in the region. Even the magnitude 4.5 earthquake that occurred nearly two years ago about 20 kilometres from Site C, resulted in no damage to any of the structures or their foundations.

The Site C dam is being designed and constructed in accordance with international and Canadian dam safety practices to withstand major events, including extreme earthquakes and floods. The project design takes into account the full range of earthquake magnitudes that are possible in the Peace region, and is being built to withstand earthquakes with a much larger magnitude than anything that has ever been recorded in the region. We are building it to withstand earthquake ground motions that are expected to occur only once every ten thousand years at that location.

In addition, there is a five-kilometre buffer zone around our facilities where no new fracking and drilling permits can be issued. BC Hydro will continue to work with the Oil and Gas Commission as well as oil and gas operators to ensure our infrastructure remains safe.

Chris O’Riley

President & CEO , BC Hydro

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