Chatham-Kent’s Colby defends wind turbines: water contamination ‘not possible’

Medical Officer of Health tells international audience that “the notion that extensive fracturing of bedrock could result from piles is ludicrous.”

Water in Chatham-Kent wells is laden with sediment. [Photo: Sydenham Current]
June 25, 2019

Speaking at the 2019 conference on wind turbine noise in Lisbon, Portugal earlier this month, Dr. David Colby took on “allegations” of disturbance of well water by wind turbine construction and pronounced the situation as impossible.

Dr. Colby was listed simply in the conference programme as being associated with Western University (he is an associate professor of microbiology and immunology) but did not list his position as Medical Officer of Health for Chatham-Kent.

In decidedly un-academic language he began by stating that “allegations of water well interference, sediment infiltration and aquifer contamination due to ground borne vibrations from wind turbine construction and operation have been levied against a wind farm in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada.”

Dr Colby’s paper is simply a recitation of evidence provided by the wind power proponent/operator and by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment at the appeal of the project. He states that the appeal was withdrawn, implying that there was no basis for it. In fact, the proponent sprang a technical report on the Appellant during the proceedings and the Tribunal refused to allow the Appellant (appearing without legal counsel) time to review the report — the Appellant was left no choice but to withdraw.

Relying on a technical report prepared for the wind power operator by Aecom Canada and the original environment ministry assessment, Colby concluded that “water quality in the study area of Chatham-Kent was poor from the outset.

“There is no evidence that water wells are being systematically affected by construction or operation of wind turbines,” Dr Colby concluded.

Not content with negating the complaints of dozens of property owners in his public health jurisdiction, Dr Colby also took a swipe at citizens in North Stormont, where one of the main concerns is that the 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project is being built on an area deemed by the province to be a “highly vulnerable aquifer.” He cited the fact the appeal was dismissed by the Environmental Review Tribunal as more proof that there is no association between wind turbines and well disturbance.

But that’s not what groundwater experts say.

In the current issue of the journal of the Ontario Groundwater Association, “Turbidity and Turbines” is the feature article, which includes an interview with hydrogeologist Bill Clarke.

“There is no doubt in my mind this is well interference,” Clarke said.

Joel Gagnon, professor in Environmental and Earth Sciences at the University of Waterloo was also interviewed about testing he and a team of students carried out on the Chatham-Kent affected wells. Where Dr Colby states outright that not only is there no problem with the well water, it’s actually impossible that there could be, Professor Gagnon says “there is a lot of uncertainty.”

He wants more investigation into the issue.

The Groundwater article says that there are not more than 80 water wells affected in Chatham-Kent. Hydrogeologist Clarke is concerned about the future, and worries the situation could become a “tragedy.”

“Why not stop,” he says, “reflect on what we don’t know.”

Read an excerpt from the David Colby presentation here: WTN2019-groundwaterExcerpt

Read the Groundwater Association article here.

Hello! EDP! We have a well here! Citizens in North Stormont mounted a campaign to demand proponent EDPR test well water, as required in the approval–many were missed. Dr Colby says affected wells had lousy water in the first place. (Photo: Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, John Irven)

New Ontario Cabinet promising for change

Demonstration at Mount Tabor in Prince Edward County: now, a government fully aware of wind turbine issues

June 22, 2019

As everyone in Ontario knows by now, the Ford government shuffled its Cabinet this week.

Key changes for Wind Concerns Ontario community group coalition and individual members are the following appointments:

Environment, Conservation and Parks: Jeff Yurek

Energy: Greg Rickford

Energy, Associate Minister, Bill Walker

Former Environment minister Phillips is now in the Finance Chair, and he knows from working with us that wind power does not bring any bonanza to Ontario’s economy; similarly, former Finance minister Vic Fedeli, now responsible for the critical Economic Development file, knows that too, and he also knows the promise of thousands of wind power jobs is false.

The fact is, we have moved in Ontario from having a (Liberal) government in which NO MPPs had wind turbines in their riding (one almost did, Grant Crack/Eastern Fields project) to a government in which 14 MPPs have active wind power projects, and several others were supportive of community fights against proposed projects.

New environment minister Yurek has been very involved with his community and wind turbines, and associate energy minister Walker stood up while in Opposition many times, describing the problems with wind turbines and demanding a return of local land-use planning. “No means No,” he told Premier Kathleen Wynne in the Legislature in 2013.

We are heartened by the comments made to us at our recent Queen’s Park event, and by the promise of these new appointments, going forward.

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

One-sided Ontario presentations at international wind turbine conference

A doctor who denies health impacts and a connection to disturbed water wells, an industry insider, and a researcher who claims there is no association between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects, are all speaking at an international Wind Turbine Noise conference this week. Whatever will they say?

Water from Dover area wells showing sediment. [Photo: Sydenham Current]
June 12, 2019

 

Tomorrow, June 13, at 0900 EDT, Dr. David Colby will deliver a presentation at the Wind Turbine Noise 2019 conference #WTN2019 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Colby, who is Medical Officer of Health for Chatham-Kent, where there have been allegations of contamination of water wells by particulate matter during wind turbine construction and association with vibration from turbine operation, is presenting a talk titled “Wind Turbines and Groundwater Contamination – an analysis.”

Dr. Colby told Chatham-Kent media that he was not travelling to this conference as a Medical Officer of Health, but rather as a private citizen, and paying expenses himself.

There are many concerns about Dr. Colby’s talk, not the least of which is despite the absence of an investigation into the allegations of contamination, which Chatham-Kent residents have been calling for, is that he has on more than a few occasions claimed there is no relationship between the wind turbine construction in North Kent and any changes in wells and the water supply.

In a story in Farmers Forum, in which MPP Monte McNaughton said the government has asked the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the province to look into the situation, Dr. Colby is quoted as saying there was “no evidence” of a relationship between the turbines and disturbed wells.

In an interview published today by the Chatham Voice, Water Wells First leader Jessica Brooks said that with dozens of wells now contaminated, patience with government inaction is waning.

According to research by Water Wells First, Brooks said, the black shale, contained in the water from the disturbed wells, is a material considered an Environmental Hazard in Canada because it has been shown the particles contain heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury, lead and uranium.

The toxins in the particles may become bioavailable when digested in stomach acid.

“A 2016 joint report between Cancer Care Ontario and Public Health Ontario acknowledged that Ontarians are in fact getting cancer each year from environmental carcinogen exposure. The report specifically acknowledged the heavy metal arsenic, which causes a cancer burden on Ontario’s beleaguered health care system each year,” Brooks said.

The content of Dr Colby’s address is unknown; however, he told Jessica Brooks earlier this year that he is simply reviewing publicly available information, including an analysis by Aecon, involved in construction of the North Kent wind power project.

Later tomorrow, Dr Colby is chairing a panel discussion titled “Impact on People.” He has testified as an expert witness for wind power proponents in the past during legal and quasi-legal proceedings.

Also presenting at this conference is Payam Ashtiani, whose firm Aercoustics boasts that it developed the compliance protocols for wind turbine noise for the (previous) government, and now regularly completes audits of wind turbine noise to assess compliance, and Dr. David Michaud (not a medical doctor), one of the authors of the Health Canada noise study.

Energy, Environment ministers promise action on wind turbine problems

“We get it” ministers tell community leaders from Ontario rural communities

Minister of Environment Rod Phillips tells rural residents the government is taking action on Ontario’s wind turbine problems: it won’t happen overnight, but we are working on it. L-R MPP Daryl Kramp, Energy Minister Greg Rickford, Environment Minister Rod Phillips, WCO president Jane Wilson, MPP Goldie Ghamari [Photo courtesy MPP Goldie Ghamari]
June 2, 2019

Ontario’s Minister of Energy and Northern Development Greg Rickford attended an event at Queen’s Park sponsored by MPP Daryl Kramp (Hastings-Lennox and Addington) and hosted by Wind Concerns Ontario this week with his colleague Rod Phillips, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Minister Rickford said the two are working together on responding to citizen concerns and reports of noise and other adverse effects from the thousands of industrial-scale wind turbines that were forced on Ontario communities by the McGuinty-Wynne governments.

“It won’t happen overnight,” Minister Rickford said, but we are dedicated to helping communities with concerns and problems with wind turbines.

In recent days, the environment ministry has determined that two large wind power projects are not in compliance with provincial noise regulations. K2 Wind is out of compliance and now the subject of a Director’s Order to implement a noise abatement plan within the next two weeks, and further, to establish firm dates for new audits to demonstrate compliance to the revised noise protocol by mid-July.

The Director has also stipulated that K2 Wind, which is owned now by Axium Infrastructure, must review resident complaints as part of its response.

The Order, the requirements for immediate noise abatement, and the acknowledgement of resident concerns mark a significant departure from how complaints were managed by the previous government, which treated the wind power operators as their “Client” and failed to respond to the majority of complaints. Response to complaints about noise and other effects is a requirement of Renewable Energy Approvals.

The “Windlectric” project on Amherst Island was also determined to be out of compliance; Wind Concerns Ontario is unaware of a Director’s Order for that project.

The Energy Minister said that cancelling the contracts with wind power operators was difficult and likely not possible, but the government was taking other action to deal with problems. Minister Phillips said they are very aware of the problems being experienced.

“We need more material from you,” he said, speaking to community leaders from across Ontario.

Many of the MPPs who have wind turbines in their ridings attended the event including Lisa Thompson (MInister of Education), Rick Nicholls (Deputy Speaker), Laurie Scott (Minister of Labour), Sam Oosterhoff, Jeff Yurek (Minister of Transportation) and of course, Daryl Kramp, who sponsored the information event. Other MPPs attending were Daisy Wai, Belinda Kalaharios, Michael Parsa, Robin Martin and Effie Triantafilopolous (both Parliamentary Assistants to the Minister of Health), Dave Smith, Doug Downey, Goldie Ghamari, Logan Kanapathi, Vijay Thanigasala, Will Bouma, Jim McDonell, and Jane McKenna.

Senior staff members for MPPs also attended the event.

“When the Green Energy Act was passed in 2009, Premier Dalton McGuinty promised action to address any concerns about health and safety associated with wind turbines,” said WCO president Jane Wilson. “That’s not what happened — today, we have thousands upon thousands of complaints filed with government about noise and other effects, and the former government did almost nothing.”

Minister Lisa Thompson, who was environment critic while the PC party was in Opposition, told WCO president Jane Wilson, “I think about this every single day–I have been with you from the beginning.”

MPP Rick Nicholls, who has many turbines in his Chatham-Kent riding, said the reality of wind turbines has resonated with the public which no longer believes the mythology about impact-free, “green” wind power generators. He referred to the defeat of the pro-wind Chatham-Kent mayor as a sign of the public’s changed attitude.

“I think they get it that there are concerns,” said Stewart Halliday of Grey Highlands, who is vice-chair of the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, and who came to represent municipal concerns about noise and safety issues. “They reassured us and now they are starting to take action with K2 and Amherst Island.”

Posters were presented around the room, outlining major concerns and suggestions for government action. A slide show featured pictures from wind turbine projects all over Ontario including Amherst Island, Bow Lake, K2 Wind, Bluewater, Belle River, and Chatham-Kent.

A WCO member and resident of West Lincoln wrote to WCO after the event to say “spirits were uplifted” for area residents after the ministers’ statements and recent actions by the MECP.