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British Columbia’s new COVID-19 restrictions disrupt construction projects

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CALGARY, Alberta – Restrictions imposed by British Columbia to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections over the holidays have disrupted construction work on a Rio Tinto hydropower project and BC Hydro’s Site C dam.

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A total of five major industrial projects in the remote northwestern Canada have been affected as the provincial government ordered them to return their workers after the holidays last week.

BC Hydro’s Site C dam, Rio Tinto’s Kemano T2 hydropower project, the Trans Mountain pipeline extension, TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink pipeline and the Royal Dutch Shell-led LNG Canada project are named in order.

The companies did not say how the slow return of workers would affect the final completion dates for their projects.

Over the five projects, the number of workers will increase from 1,460 to 4,080 by mid-February.

The provincial health official, Dr Bonnie Henry, said a rapid return to full operational capacity after Christmas would likely boost and accelerate the spread of COVID-19 among workers and surrounding communities.

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“While these changes will have a further impact on our overall project schedule and costs, we understand the rationale for the order,” said David Conway, spokesman for the C $ 10.7 billion ($ 8.4 billion) site. C project on the river Peace, already said about the budget.

Rio Kinto’s Kemano T2 project, in which a second tunnel is being built to supply hydropower to the BC Works aluminum smelter in Kitimat, will normally have 330 employees on site, but will be limited to 280 until further notice.

Rio Tinto expects the project to resume when it is authorized to increase the number of workers on site to use the tunnel boring machine safely, a company spokesman said.

The Canadian government through the government, Trans Mountain, halted work on expanding the pipeline in December after several safety issues.

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Construction was scheduled to begin again Monday, but it was still interrupted, though Trans Mountain did not say whether the new COVID-19 rules caused the delay. The 1,150-kilometer pipeline transports crude oil from Alberta across British Columbia to the coast and the order affects only one work camp in Valemount.

“We are in the final stages of our restart planning and expect to provide further details on the restart dates in the coming days,” a Trans Mountain spokesman said Tuesday.

A LNG Canada spokesman said the slower return to work schedule would enable the project to continue with “seasonally critical” work. Coastal GasLink did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

($ 1 = 1.2736 Canadian dollars) (Reported by Nia Williams; Edited by David Gregorio)

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