The first of two massive hydroelectric turbines headed for the Site C Dam in Fort St. John snuck out of Prince Rupert under the cloak of darkness on Jan 10.
While no official statement was made to the community about the transportation, the foretelling of the extraordinary wide load headed down Hwy 16 was hinted at in a press release issued by the Ministry of Transportation on Jan. 8 announcing night-time traffic delays due to a wide load for each night between Jan. 10 to 14, between Prince Rupert and Chetwynd.
As the turbine travelled on a 221-ft load, down the highway, leaving from the Industrial Park area in a long convoy, the road was closed in both directions for more than an hour with drivers expressing frustration on social media at the long wait.
The first of three shipments of two 170-tonne turbine runners measuring 26 ft (8 metres) wide by 17 feet (5 metres) tall was originally spotted by Black Press Media on Dec. 2 being unloaded by crane from a vessel in the inner harbour onto a barge for transportation to shore.
“The turbine runners are the heaviest unassembled single project component of equipment related to the generating station,” Dave Conway, community relations manager for the Site C project told Black Press Media.
The specially built cargo was constructed and shipped from Sao Paulo, Brazil as part of a $470 million contract between BC Hydro and Voith Hydro Canada. The hydroelectric turbines are unique, built to suit the needs of the Site C Dam requirements.
The transportation firm Omega Morgan, which specializes in oversized load transportation is overseeing the movement between Prince Rupert and the Site C Dam.
The turbines are set to be installed at Site C in 2022. There will be six vertical axis turbines in total, with two more shipments to be confirmed, however, not expected until the spring of 2021 and the summer of 2022, Conway said.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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