Dear Premier John Horgan,

I have been told by your staff that you will pay attention to new and important information regarding Site C dam.  Here is new and important information. Please pay attention.

I am writing about extremely serious concerns regarding the safety of Site C dam that Dr Vern Ruskin,  has drawn to my attention over the course of several lengthy and extremely informative conversations. While this is late in the debate about Site C I believe we have an ethical obligation to take it seriously, apart from any political or other concerns and feelings we have about Site C.

If you are unaware of who Dr Ruskin, (PhD,MCom,BSc,Retired PEng (BC) ,PE(WA) Numbered Author) is and why you should believe him please see my NOTE below.

In 2011 there was a major design change to the original Site C dam with no evidence that it is safe beyond a shadow of a doubt. When it comes to public safety the engineering information should be publicly accessible upon request and in Dr Ruskin’s experience it is not.

It is Dr Ruskin’s professional opinion that a serious risk to public safety of the redesigned SiteC dam exists and that people downstream of the dam are at potential risk of dam failure. 

Further these risks require a second opinion by independent geo technical engineers of the re- engineering that changed the original safe design to the new potentially unsafe design.

This is the question I am now bringing forward to you to have it addressed. Can you assure me that Site C is safe beyond a shadow of a doubt?

Dr Ruskin brought these concerns forward to the recent BCUC hearings but I have been informed by the Commission secretary, Patrick Wruck, that the question of dam safety was deemed to be outside the TOR and therefore not addressed in the Inquiry. I have tried to the best of my ability to ensure that the information I am giving you has merit and deserves to be taken very seriously. I do not believe this information has reached your attention to date and I cannot in conscience fail to bring it forward.

As I understand it Dr Ruskin questions the safety, stability and costs of the redesign and why it has not been proven safe beyond a shadow of a doubt. He mentions at least three major issues:

  1. that the change from the original design to the right angle design is inherently less safe unless pinned and anchored in bedrock. (As I understand it the risk is that the force of the water could pull apart the right angle and that the margin of safety may not be adequate with the new design.)
  2. that the original design and standard engineering practice would use the island in the centre of the river as a stable anchor.
  3. that the appearances of significant unexpected tension cracks and other evidence of site instability are substantive evidence of the potential for dam failure should the project continue.

(NOTE: Dr Vern Ruskin is the engineer hired in 1955 by Dal Grauer of then BC Electric, to be Director, Planning Division with a 45 person staff and responsible for planning, designing, budgeting and contracting more than ten Dams in BC, including WAC Bennett, Peace Canyon and Site C (obviously not building) on the Peace River and 4 Dams on the Columbia River. Although he is a retired professional engineer his knowledge and experience are vast and detailed and reliable.)

Dr Ruskin’s concerns invoke the Mount Polley redesign failure with its catastrophic outcomes. I ask that you take the time and actions necessary to ascertain this dam’s safety. I believe that Dr Ruskin’s opinions are unlikely to be discredited and that his facts and analysis are unassailable. I also believe there is a need to factor in updated understandings about climate change impacts that weren’t understood or considered during the original design or the redesign.

My understanding of why he has not given up trying to be heard is that as the engineer originally responsible he could not ethically and morally leave this issue without doing everything in his power to have the engineering reviewed. Vern occurs for me as a non self serving public servant doing his best to bring very important information forward. He is 93 years old and clear as a bell!!! In my view he is not interested in being right but in doing right.

Below are the links to Dr Ruskin’s submissions to BCUC. You will see that he is repetitious and not overly organized or eloquent in his written submissions which he readily admits. Also his deafness gives oral communication special but resolvable challenges. However what he is warning about is very serious and I don’t think his warning has been heard by Government.

I started out planning to send you only a couple of files but ended up sending them all (except the second file as it is a repeat of submission 1). This information is really a shocker and is just buried in all the BCUC submissions. All the files are attached below.

I recommend starting with this file as it is the most succinct overview of the range of concerns he brought to the BCUC. However the other files contain the facts that an independent professional geotechnical engineer must review to ensure confidence in the public safety aspect of the whole Site C dam question.

Thank you for taking this information seriously. I have great respect for you and trust that you will do what is right and necessary to ensure the protection of public safety. Please advise me of receipt of this correspondence and if possible please keep me informed of the progress of your investigation.


D Lynn Chapman

Roberts Creek, BC

This is about the Columbia River Treaty…