Contractor fires workers at billion-dollar North Van wastewater treatment plant

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An international construction company appears to have given up on work on a billion-dollar wastewater treatment plant in North Vancouver.

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An international construction company that is building the billion-dollar wastewater treatment plant in North Vancouver has all but “abandoned” the project, according to Metro Vancouver.

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The head of the regional federation of municipalities said he learned “without notice” that around 130 of the 180 workers on the project had been made redundant on Wednesday.

“It appears to Metro Vancouver that Acciona has abandoned the project,” Jerry Dobrovolny, commissioner and executive director of Metro Vancouver, said by email.

“Since they are years behind on this project, we expected them to step up their efforts at the site, not reduce them. “

The North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant is under construction on West 1st Street between Pemberton Avenue and Philip Avenue in the District of North Vancouver.

Postmedia has contacted Acciona Wastewater Solutions for comment, but no response was received on Friday.

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The construction of the North Shore wastewater treatment plant has stalled and a large part of the workforce is laid off.
The construction of the North Shore wastewater treatment plant has stalled and a large part of the workforce is laid off. Photo by Francis Georgian /PNG

AWS is part of Acciona, a Spanish multinational based near Madrid specializing in construction infrastructure and renewable energy.

None of the mayors of the three municipalities of the North Shore could be reached for comment on Friday.

The cost of the North Vancouver project fell from $ 700 million to $ 1.058 billion. Construction began in 2018 and completion was originally scheduled for late 2020. This has now been delayed until 2024.

Part of the delay was due to the upgrading of the plant from secondary treatment to tertiary treatment in 2019.

In a Vancouver Sun article in March, Metro Vancouver blamed escalating costs on “harsh terrain conditions, seismic resiliency requirements, space constraints, geotechnical complications, contract issues, and COVID-19.” .

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When completed, the project will include a new treatment plant on a 3.5 hectare site, a two kilometer pipeline to redirect wastewater from the existing plant to the new one, and preliminary decommissioning work at the current site.

Dobrovolny explained in an email that there is a process for making payments which includes an independent certifier reviewing whether the contractor has met the requirements.

“At this point, Acciona Wastewater Solutions LP has not earned any additional payment,” he said. “We have made an effort to work together, but we expect them to honor all contractual obligations.”

The contractor has apparently fallen behind on key milestones, which includes meeting certain requirements by a specific date.

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“Metro Vancouver expects the contractor to continue to work in good faith to meet the terms of the contract, including all health and safety requirements,” Dobrovolny said. “We are committed to completing the project and actively evaluating our options on how to proceed and making sure it is carried out in the best interest of the region. “

The new plant is designed to treat 102 million liters per day under normal conditions and up to 320 million liters per day when there is enough rain to run into the sewer system.

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