Crews working hard to upgrade Keenleyside Dam

By Craig Lindsay – Castlegar News
Published: September 02, 2011 3:00 PM
Updated: September 05, 2011 8:40 AM

Work crews have been busy this summer at the Hugh L. Keenleyside Dam (HLK) upgrading the spillway gates.

The dam, which is located eight kilometres from Castlegar on the Columbia River, is one of 41 dam facilities B.C. Hydro owns, operates and maintains throughout British Columbia as part of its power generating system.

“This is for the reliability of the spillway and the low level gates at Keenleyside,” said James Stark, Plant Manager at HLK. “Reliability being you have back-ups in the level of four back-up power supplies and ways of opening and closing the gates. Right now we have two. If we had a major power outage we have one supply and that’s not enough redundancy for dam safety. We want more redundancy built into the system so you have levels of barriers to help you get through any emergency.”

Spillway gates in dams act as movable water barriers, holding and controlling the amount of water that can be discharged from the reservoir.

“It’s all dam safety and developing better reliability of all 12 gates,” said Stark.

To upgrade HLK, Hydro is using a combination of replacement, refurbishment, and the addition of new equipment on the spillway and the low level outlet gates. The scope of the work includes upgrading the mechanical components, electrical power systems, and the protection and control systems at the facility.

The project began in October of 2010 and is scheduled to be completed in December of 2014.

The road that goes across the HLK Dam will be closed until Dec. 22 when it will be reviewed further.

“The closure was put into place following the safety incident that occurred during project work on Aug. 15,” said Mary Anne Coules, B.C. Hydro community relations. “An unidentified driver reportedly ran the red light on the north side of the dam, narrowly avoiding a collision with another vehicle that was crossing the dam, and then swerved into the work zone through the safety barriers at a high rate of speed,”

B.C. Hydro and HMI, the contractor for the spillway gates project, investigated the incident and examined options to determine if there are any additional safety measures that would ensure the safety of workers while keeping the road open to the public during the project.

“The investigation concluded there are no adequate additional safety measures that could be put into place to ensure worker safety while keeping the road open for public use. As such, it is necessary to close the road until Dec. 22 to ensure a safe work environment for employees and contractors,” said Coules.

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