Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
In a letter from Senior Environmental Officer Scott Gass in the Owen Sound District Office of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), Ministry staff report that the operator of the massive K2 Wind power project claims the project is now in compliance with Ontario noise regulations for industrial-scale wind turbines.
K2 Wind was found out of compliance earlier this year and was the subject of a Director’s Order to implement a Noise Abatement Plan for 90 of the 140 turbines in the power project.
Now, says Mr. Gass in his letter to a resident with longstanding problems (who wishes to be anonymous), the noise issue appears to be resolved. Mr. Gass’ email, it should be noted, was to furnish the residents with official Incident Report numbers for ongoing reports of excessive noise and vibration.
His email stated:
“At this time, in response to the additional Part D noise analysis completed in the spring, K2 has taken steps to de-rate approximately 90 turbines to reduce noise emissions. The information supplied by the company indicates that the wind turbines, with the interim curtailment in place, meet the ministry’s sound level limits. This is an interim measure put in place while K2 develops a long-term noise abatement action plan for ministry review. Once a long-term plan has been implemented, additional monitoring will be required to assess the noise emissions.” [Scott Gass, email October 4, 2019]
The ministry continues to rely on outdated regulations in its Compliance Protocol, which assess audible noise emissions only. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Act clearly states that the operator of a wind power project must address all conditions causing “adverse effect” and take steps to address the complaints from nearby residents.
So, in short, the only sign of success in noise abatement would be a complete halt in complaints about noise and adverse effects — that’s not what is happening. Resident complaints do not appear to be a factor in assessment of compliance.
The family emailed by Mr. Gass lives on a farm surrounded by turbines in all directions, and has been reporting excessive noise from multiple K2 Wind turbines for four years — since the project began operation.
Problems with wind turbine noise are prevalent all over Ontario, with more than 4,500 formal reports filed up to 2016. (Wind Concerns Ontario has requested data for 2017 and 2018 but so far, has not received any information, and has in fact filed for a second appeal to obtain the 2017 records.)
Environment minister Jeff Yurek recently visited residents in Port Elgin who have filed hundreds of complaints about the Unifor wind turbine in that community.
While a pledge to enforce regulations is a step forward from the previous government, which had a very close relationship with the wind power industry, there can be no “success” on this front until all noise complaints and reports of adverse health effects have stopped.
That will require political courage and decisive action, including the shutdown of wind turbines.
Note: if you are experiencing noise/vibration/sensation of pressure from wind turbines, please report it to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks by calling the Spills Action Centre at 1-866-MOE-TIPS. Be sure to get an Incident Report number and keep a record of your call. You may wish to copy your MPP.
More wind turbines going up in Chatham-Kent; millions more to be added to Ontario electricity bills
October 7, 2019
Chatham-Kent residents living near Wheatley Ontario were surprised to see construction work last week, and delivery of components for industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines.
The “Romney Wind Energy Centre” turbines are now being erected, with a projected commercial operation date early next year.
Romney was one of five LRP I (Large Renewable Procurement) projects that received contracts in 2016 under the Wynne government; three of those (Dutton-Dunwich, Otter Creek, and La Nation) were “cancelled” by the Ford government last year, but two were considered to be too far along in the process, having achieved “Key Development MIlestones” or KDMs as the IESO calls them, to be cancelled.
Romney will cost Ontario electricity customers more than $260 million over its 20-year contract. The maximum pre-construction liability for cancelling the project would have been around $500,000.
The project capacity is 60 megawatts of power, which Ontario does not need at present. Wind power is produced out of phase with demand in Ontario, and wind power projects rarely achieve more than 30% of capacity. Developer EDF of France of France promised construction updates for the projects so residents can know when traffic will be disrupted, but the last update posted was for a single week in August.
The other project that escaped cancellation was “Nation Rise” in North Stormont in Eastern Ontario. The community there launched an appeal, which was dismissed and currently has a final appeal and a request for a Stay of Construction before the MInister of Environment, Conservation and Parks. That project will cost electricity customers more than $400 million, and posed significant environmental risks as presented in the appeal.
New information reveals audits of Ontario wind power projects still not complete after years in review
September 30, 2019
When the Ontario government under premier Dalton McGuinty introduced the Green Energy and Green Economy Act in 2009, the premier promised that regulations for setbacks between the industrial-scale wind turbines and Ontario residents’ homes would be based on science, for health and safety.
“If you have concerns [about health and safety],” he said, “ we must find a way to address those.”
So, promises of protection were made to the people of rural Ontario, who were without recourse as their quiet communities were transformed into power generation facilities.
But there was little or no protection.
Information provided to Wind Concerns Ontario by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks shows that lengthy periods, sometimes years, elapsed between the submission, review and acceptance of technical reports required to confirm that turbines were safe. The majority are still either not complete or in review.
Meanwhile, citizen complaints of excessive noise, many with reports of adverse health effects linked to sleep disturbance, continue. Thousands of complaints have been registered with the government, most without resolution.
Regulations exist but checking for compliance involves comparing real noise measurements via “audits” (done by the wind power operators themselves, using acoustics contractors) against their own “modelled” or predicted noise levels.
According to the information provided by Eugene Macchione, Acting Director Client Services and Permissions Branch of the environment ministry in an email dated August 9 this year, of the 49 wind power projects listed in response to our request under Freedom of Information legislation:
16 are determined to be incomplete
15 are still in review
12 have demonstrated compliance with regulations
3 are not yet due
2 are non-compliant and in Noise Abatement plans, and
1 was never submitted.
These figures mean that, according to the environment ministry’s list, Conservation and Parks, almost 70 percent of the audits required to assure health and safety are either not complete as submitted, are in review, not compliant, or not submitted at all.
The list is not complete and is missing 11 post-Green Energy Act projects; more projects, at least 19, are also not listed.
WIND POWER PROJECT AUDIT STATUS AS OF JULY 30, 2019, FROM MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT, CONSERVATION AND PARKS
Not only are the required audit reports not completed, the time elapsed between submission of the audits and conclusion of the government review is astonishing. The Conestogo wind power project began commercial operation on December 20, 2012, and is listed as still being “in review” as of July 30 for 2,058 days — that’s over five and a half years. According to noise report data provided to Wind Concerns Ontario via FOI, Conestogo has been the subject of dozens of noise complaints from nearby residents.
East Durham Wind Energy Centre began commercial operation in 2015, but after 1,087 days, it is now listed as incomplete; the project racked up almost 300 formal noise complaints in just a year and a half.
The Summerhaven power project has been operating since August 2013, and remains “in review” after more than 2,000 days, or 5.4 years.
The list provided by the ministry is not only incomplete, however, it is inaccurate: the K2 Wind power project, which is number three in Ontario for noise complaints as of 2016 (it started operation in 2015) is listed as “incomplete” when in fact, the project was found to be out of compliance with more than 80 of its 140 turbines not meeting the regulations. The project is currently under a Director’s Order to implement a noise abatement plan.
Bluewater is one project that was determined to be “in compliance” (despite many noise complaints against it), but its audit report was in review for four years.
The single wind turbine owned by union Unifor is not named on the government list but was the subject of over 300 complaints by the end of 2016, with many more reported in the media. Meeting recently with environment minister Jeff Yurek, residents of Port Elgin told him that audits were never done for the turbine, in spite of hundreds of complaints, many with reports of adverse health effects. 
DAYS IN REVIEW: WIND TURBINE PROJECTS CURRENTLY DEEMED “INCOMPLETE” AS OF JULY 30, 2019
Source: Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, August 9, 2019
The new government seems to be actively demanding audits be done, and several Ontario projects are now under order to reduce noise, but a lot of people have been waiting a long time for these reviews, says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson.
In April 2017, MPP Lisa Thompson asked a question in the Ontario Legislature regarding resolution of complaints about wind turbine noise emissions experienced by two families in her riding of Huron-Bruce. Then Minister of the Environment and Climate Change in the Wynne government Glen Murray assured members of the Legislature that:
The … law works. There are standards. When people call, I’m very proud of the officials. They respond quickly and they enforce the law. The law is being enforced here. If wind turbines or any other type of technology exceeds sound levels, we enforce the law. … No one should have to suffer noise or noise pollution from any source, and certainly not wind turbines in their community.
“People were promised—and they are still being told by environment staff, every day—that the rules are there to protect them,” Wilson says. “But here’s the truth: the rules may be there but they’re not adequate, and they haven’t been enforced. The previous government appears to have been very protective of the wind power business.”
The Ministry has multiple options to force wind power operators to comply with regulations, including shutdown. (See Sections E1 and E3 of the Compliance Protocol). The project operators are required to post the submitted audits publicly, but there is a serious inconsistency in this. The Compliance Protocol on the ministry website appears to have been edited and is now contradictory. As of September 24, 2019, the protocol (with the apparent cut-and-paste errors) reads:
The Ministry will also require that all Acoustic Audit reportsSummary [sic] documents are also acceptable but upon request, the complete audit should be made available. be posted [sic] on the project website within 10 business days of the Acoustic Audit being submitted to the Director and District Manager. The Ministry expects the owner/operator to ensure that the Acoustic Audit reports, and any updates, remain available to the public on the project website for the life of the project.
The larger issue is the fact the Compliance Protocol is flawed: it is based on audible noise and does not take into account the full range of noise emissions from wind turbines. Low-frequency inaudible emissions are implicated in many adverse health effects, but were not included in the regulations which were themselves formulated with guidance from the wind power lobby.
“While the current government seems to be committed to enforcing the noise regulations for wind power generators, there is a long way to go before the people of rural Ontario are protected,” says Wilson.
NOTE: data on noise reports filed with the Government of Ontario are only available at present for 2006–2016; requests have been made for 2017 and 2018 data, but have not been fulfilled. WCO recently applied for a second appeal with the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s Office for refusal to reply to the 2017 data request.
 Wind Concerns Ontario. Response to Wind Turbine Noise Complaints, 2nd report 2015-2016, February 2018.
 According to the Compliance Protocol for Wind Turbine Noise two kinds of audits are required as part of their Renewable Energy Approval, and to comply with Ontario regulations. They are: E-Audits to verify the validity of the sound power levels provided by manufacturers, and used in acoustic models to determine the noise impact of a wind facility at receptor locations; and I-Audits to verify the validity of predicted sound pressure levels in Acoustic Assessment Reports, and verify compliance with applicable sound level limits at receptor locations.
The previous government did not respond to complaints, or do the testing required in its own regulations, Saugeen Shores residents say
September 25, 2019
Jeff Yurek, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, met privately with residents of Port Elgin/Saugeen Shores to discuss the hundreds of complaints filed by families there about noise emissions from the single wind turbine owned by Unifor.
Mayor Luke Charbonneau, who has long advocated for the residents and tried to resolve the problems with the Unifor turbine, was also present at a meeting, wrapped up by Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson.
Local community leader Greg Schmalz was grateful for the minister’s attention (“I had to pinch myself”) and said the government seems to understand that new regulations for wind turbine noise, including the low-frequency or inaudible noise emissions from turbines, is part of the answer.
Port Elgin resident Greg Schmalz, founder of STOP/ Saugeen Turbine Operation Policy, said the medical harm the CAW wind turbine has caused local residents makes Port Elgin “the lab rat test case” for Ontario.
“They put a low-powered machine amongst 1,300 people living 1,000 metres (of the turbine) – you’ve got an experience that generated the highest number complaints about any wind turbine in Ontario – half which are about audible noise and the half are ‘I’m feeling sick’ complaints due to infrasound,” Schmalz said in a Sept. 24 telephone interview, adding the constant feeling of nausea by at least one local couple forced to them to sell their new Port Elgin home near the turbine.
Schmalz said after years of not so much as an email from ministry officials on turbine issue, he was “pinching myself” to believe he was actually in a room with the minister who was listening.
After the meeting Schmalz was confident they got more than lip service from Minister Yurek, who is on a turbine fact-finding tour of Ontario.
Schmalz hopes the first-hand testimonies and scientific data provided to the minister will lead to regulations prohibiting health harming ‘nauisogenic frequency range’ audio emissions that can’t be heard but are felt by the body.
“Part of the remedy, that I believe the PC government is examining, is how to create regulations that could address the measuring of very low frequency of sound inside people’s homes – the nauisogenic frequency range emissions,” Schmalz said, adding they presented the minister with their expert’s testing results and information uncovered after STOP filed a Freedom of Information request that showed the turbine was operating out of compliance with provincial rules.
Schmalz said they key message to the minister was they’ve done the science.
Noise and infrasound harms people and here’s the people that were harmed,” Schmalz said, adding after 10 years of opposition to the turbine, STOP wants to end the endless cycle of noise complaints to the ministry about the UNIFOR turbine and help finding a solution.
Provincial officials made a written commitment for annual emission testing of the UNIFOR turbine when it began operating in 2013, but that testing was not done.
Private testing by STOP and a Freedom of Information filing found the turbine had been operating out of compliance, and last spring a noise abatement plan, including reducing output to 300Kw from 500Kw, showed it was in compliance under those conditions.
Saugeen Shores Mayor Luke Charbonneau revealed details of the meeting after-the-fact, saying the minister wanted no advance notice to prevent “some big splashy thing where a lot of people – no offense media – show up,” Charbonneau said , adding the minister wanted the affected people to be the story, not his visit.
Charbonneau said two or three years ago, the very notion that the minister would come and speak to the affected people was impossible, so “just the very gesture means a lot to me and those folks who had a chance to speak to him the other say,” Charbonneau said after the Sept 23 council meeting.
Charbonneau said the minister listened, but did not say anything that would advance the issue.
“I hope and expect the government will make some decisions based on what they are hearing from the people,” on the minister’s fact-finding tour.
Charbonneau said Huron Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services, facilitated the meeting, and wrapped up the Sept. 19 meeting asking Minister Yurek to comment on what he’d heard.
Wind Concerns Ontario reminds everyone living inside wind power projects to continue to file noise reports with the ministry by calling a local office or the “Spills Line” at 1-866-MOE-TIPS. Be sure to get an Incident Report number, and keep a record of the call.
Daniel Stapleton of Niagara County: managing risk is my job [Photo: Niagara Gazette]
September 17, 2019
Last week, Senator Robert Ortt of New York State, hosted a public health forum in Williamsville, NY. Many speakers attended including acoustician Robert Rand, audiology professor Jerry Punch, and others.
The Public Health Director for Niagara County, Daniel Stapleton, was one of the featured speakers. Starting out with the grave pronouncement, “I don’t call them wind ‘farms,’ I call them industrial wind turbines,” Stapleton said it is his job to manage risks to health in his jurisdiction.
He pointed out that sleep disturbance is an acknowledged and serious risk to health, and leads to various chronic diseases. He linked wind turbine noise emissions to sleep disturbance (which is not the same as sleep deprivation) and the development of chronic disease.
He said that he, and many fellow public health officials are so concerned about wind turbine noise emissions and the lack of appropriate regulation, that he, and 58 other officials will be issuing a statement on the need for stronger regulation governing wind turbines.
In Ontario, Canada, wind turbine noise regulations were drafted by the government under Premier Dalton McGuinty whose government took many actions to promote wind power development; the regulations, including property setbacks, were developed in consultation with the wind power industry.
They have not been updated.
Ontario received more than 4,500 reports of excessive noise from wind turbines, many with reports of adverse health effects, between 2006 and 2016.
Wind Concerns Ontario has requested the noise reports for 2017 and 2018 from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, but has notreceived any documents. The 2017 documents were the subject of an appeal after lack of response was deemed a refusal, but the request has still not been fulfilled, after more than a year.
Many people will have missed this interview with MPP Vic Fedeli, as it was published in the West Nipissing community newspaper, but the comments from Mr. Fedeli on a recent report from the Fraser Institute are definitely worth a look.
Especially this week, as the wind power industry trade association and lobbyist CanWEA is in Ottawa, trying to persuade Ontario municipalities that wind power is a cost-effective way to generate electrical power that also brings jobs and prosperity to communities.
Not so, says former finance minister and nor Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade for Ontario. Wind and solar are among the most expensive ways to generate electricity, he told My West Nipissing News.
Wind power contracts were a waste of money because they produced power that Ontario didn’t need, and the surplus power is sold off, often at a loss, to competing jurisdictions in the U.S., Fedeli said. “We make about 30,000 megawatts of power a day but only need about 20,000,” Fedeli said. “So we end up paying the United States and Quebec every single night to take our surplus power. And it’s billions of dollars every year that we’re paying those competitors of ours.”
Referring to a recent Auditor General’s report, Fedeli says the AG identified that the solar and wind projects of the previous government resulted in “spending $37-billion in wasted money”. He added that former Premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne pursued the wind and solar projects solely for ideological reasons and photo ops.
“The Auditor-General has proven it certainly wasn’t anything in terms of bringing relief for families,” Fedeli said.
The Fraser Institute report noted that solar and wind are intended to displace emission-producing forms of power generation, but also that many provinces in Canada get much of their power from nuclear plants or hydroelectric dams, neither of which energy sources produce greenhouse gas emissions.
Fedeli said Ontario gets 60 percent of its power from nuclear and additional power from its huge hydroelectric projects like Niagara Falls.
“We have clean energy from water and nuclear,” he said.
What Mr. Fedeli didn’t mention in referring to the Auditor General reports over the last 15 years was that the former McGuinty and Wynne governments never did any kind of cost-benefit or impact analysis for their wind power program which was essentially forced industrialization for rural communities. Impacts such as environmental noise leading to health problems and property value loss were never examined. The report from the Fraser Institute alleges the wind power lobby purposely ignores the consequences of wind power development, and the operation of wind power facilities.
A renowned researcher specializing in noise emissions and their effect on the human body, will be speaking at the University of Waterloo on September 12.
All are invited and there is no charge for the event.
Speaker: Mariana Alves-Pereira
Title: Infrasound & Low Frequency Noise: Physics, Cells, Health and History Date: Thursday September 12, 2019
Time: 1 pm
Location: University of Waterloo, Room: DC 1302 (Davis Centre)
Speaker Bio: Mariana Alves-Pereira holds a B.Sc. in Physics (State University of New York at Stony Brook), a M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering (Drexel University) and a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences (New University of Lisbon). She joined the multidisciplinary research team investigating the biological response to infrasound and low frequency noise in 1988, and has been the team’s Assistant Coordinator since 1999. Recipient of three scientific awards, and author and coauthor of over 50 scientific publications (including peer-reviewed and conference presentations), Dr. Alves-Pereira is currently Associate Professor at Lusófona University teaching Biophysics and Biomaterials in health science programs (nursing and radiology), as well as Physics and Hygiene in workplace safety & health programs.
Her most recently published paper concerns low-frequency noise and infrasound, and how outdated regulations are failing to protect health.
Host: Associate professor Richard Mann, http://www.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~mannr
New from the Fraser Institute is a report on renewable energy and the consequences of political encouragement of variable power sources.
The abstract is below but be sure to read the full report. A paragraph of page 6 is particularly damning of Ontario’s energy policy:
” … proponents of wind and solar power intentionally misrepresent the advantages of these technologies by focussing attention solely on the costs and benefits obtained whenever electricity is being generated. The costs of wind and solar power are considerably higher and the environmental benefits much lower when account is taken of the impact these technologies have on an entire electricity system. Ultimately, consumers do not pay for electricity generated using wind and sunlight but for electricity that is delivered to them continuously by the electricity system as a whole. Therefore, when VRE is introduced into an electricity system, ratepayers are interested in its system-wide impact, not just the cost of the wind and solar power entering the grid. The additional conventional generating capacity required to provide back-up electricity supply when VRE capacity is not generating electricity because of a lack of wind or sunshine is a significant incremental cost to the system.”
Generating Electricity in Canada from Wind and Sunlight: Is Getting Less for More Better than Getting More for Less?
Using wind and sunlight to generate electricity is controversial. Advocates urge increased reliance on these variable renewable energy (VRE) sources because they are seen as a low-cost way of mitigating a looming climate-change crisis. Critics take the opposite stance, claiming wind and solar power are costly, and the environmental benefits negligible at best. Some Canadian provinces have gone to considerable lengths to encourage adoption of these technologies, but the results have been mixed.
This study shows that both positions contain elements of truth. Electricity generated using wind and sunshine is relatively inexpensive. However, once the capacity is in place, it is only available at certain times of the day and/or when the weather cooperates. But consumers require a reliable electricity supply and integrating VRE into existing electricity systems while maintaining a continuous and reliable supply is complicated and costly, both financially and environmentally. Electricity consumers and taxpayers are interested primarily in the financial burden that results from efforts to increase electricity generating capacity using VRE sources. This includes the costs wind and solar power impose on the electricity system as a whole, not just the cost of the VRE-generated electricity supplied to the grid.
The incremental financial costs to the system fall into three basic categories: first, augmenting existing conventional generating capacity so that it is able to compensate for the unreliable supply of wind and solar power. Second, ensuring that the necessary investment in conventional generating capacity is forthcoming although the VRE in the system makes it impossible to use this capacity efficiently. This requirement is usually satisfied either with a capacity market or contracts with suppliers of conventional generating capacity. Third, adding transmission grid capacity and the configuration of grid services required to integrate VRE into the electricity system. Each category has repercussions for the environment. Cheap electricity from wind turbines and solar panels paradoxically results in larger bills for electricity users and taxpayers. Higher utility rates for businesses and households and higher taxes and cutbacks to public services dampen economic activity and reduce living standards.
Compared to conventional power sources, small and variable amounts of electricity are generated when wind and solar energy are captured and transformed by a dispersed array of VRE installations. Large areas of land, often in remote locations, are required. This inevitably results in significant additional costs in terms of delivery infrastructure (for example, high-voltage power lines) and back-up power generation (for example, natural-gas-powered turbines) that would not otherwise be incurred. The first part of this study examines how electricity systems work in order to evaluate the contradictory claims made about VRE. Whether or not wind and solar power are clean and cheap depends on how the evaluation is framed. Critics point out that the economic and environmental costs of the electricity generated using wind and solar technologies can be quite different from the impact of this source of electricity on a system-wide basis.
The second part of the study shows how the system-wide costs and benefits of adding wind and solar power to an existing electricity system are affected by the policies of provincial governments, the cost of electricity, the conventional generating assets already in place, and the structure of the electricity system. Comparing experiences with VRE in different provinces illustrates the importance of these factors.
Cross-Canada comparisons show that electricity utilities themselves are usually best placed to determine whether or not the system-wide cost of these technologies is justified. Prior to 2015, Alberta demonstrated how a competitive wholesale market for electricity determined the extent to which wind and solar energy is economically feasible. Neither is the involvement of provincial governments necessarily a bad thing. Prince Edward Island has successfully integrated a substantial amount of wind power into its electricity system under unique circumstances: a provincial Crown corporation operates several wind farms but the rest of the electricity system is privately or municipally owned. Problems arise when dramatic increases in wind and solar power receive political sanction and the economic consequences are underestimated or ignored. A bold initiative to increase wind and solar generating capacity in the Ontario electricity system backfired badly, leading to soaring electricity rates for both consumers and manufacturers. Between 2015 and 2019, the Alberta government worked towards installing even more wind and solar capacity than had proved politically and economically unsustainable in Ontario, but the electorate allowed that government only a single term in office.
A policy should be judged by whether or not the chosen means have delivered the promised ends. Our review of Canadian wind and solar energy policy shows that they led to consequences consistent with those in other jurisdictions: ramping up electricity production using these power sources results in increased costs for taxpayers and consumers when account is taken of the impact these technologies have on the electricity system as a whole and, when done on any significant scale, generally negative and unnecessary environmental consequences.
In 2018, MPP Monte McNaughton presented a bottle of brown well water to Chris Ballard, environment minister in the Wynne government, asking that something be done. Nothing was.On July 19, MPP Monte McNaughton (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex) announced that the Ontario government had struck a five-member panel of scientists to investigate whether there is a link between the vibrations from wind turbine construction and operation and the disturbance in more than 80 wells in Chatham-Kent. Mr. McNaughton made the announcement with fellow MPPs Rick Nicholls and Bob Bailey at a news conference.
The news release is as follows:
July 19, 2019
Ontario Conducting Health Hazard Investigation
Province Creates Independent Panel of Scientists to Investigate Water Wells, Fulfilling Commitment
Chatham Kent — Ontario’s government for the people has formed an expert independent panel to investigate well water in Chatham Kent, MPP McNaughton announced today.
The five-member independent panel will determine if the water from private wells in Chatham-Kent is safe for consumption.
“Our government made a promise to strike this panel,” said McNaughton. “Today we are fulfilling that promise.”
The five-member independent panel will consist of four experienced toxicologists and one local geologist. All members are independent from government and are experienced toxicology professionals that have served on advisory committees.
The panel is empowered to take a fresh look at new samples collected from certain water wells in Chatham-Kent where residents have raised questions about water quality. Samples from up to 189 private wells will be taken by a third-party business and tested by a commercial laboratory.
The announcement fulfills a government commitment.
“Barely one year after this promise was made, we are fulfilling it,” said McNaughton. “And we’re doing it in a way that will inspire confidence from the people of this community. People can trust the results this independent panel delivers.”
The five independent experts comprising the panel are:
Dr. Keith Benn, PhD – A local geologist and past professor of geology at University of Ottawa.
Dr. Glenn Ferguson, PhD, QPRA – An environmental health scientist with 25 years experience in toxicology, epidemiology, and human health risk assessment.
Dr. Shelley A. Harris, PhD – An epidemiologist and associate professor at University of Toronto who specializes in exposure measurement.
Dr. Ron Brecher, PhD – A specialist in toxicology, risk assessment and risk communication.
Mark Chappel, MSc, DABT – A toxicologist with significant experience in supervising and managing comprehensive toxicity studies.
“This is welcome news for the people of Chatham-Kent, who raised the effect of wind turbine construction on the water at appeal as a concern,” said Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “That appeal was withdrawn because the proponent sprung a consulting report on the appeal and the Tribunal refused to allow the citizens time to examine it — they were left with no choice, and no chance for real presentation of the issues.”
Wilson, a registered nurse, said she hoped the independent panel of scientists will be free to examine water samples and review the experience of the families’ whose water wells have been affected.
“The response of some authorities, including the local Medical Officer of Health, is that the wells were not of good quality to begin with. That’s absurd and defies belief, when you have dozens of wells fail in a short time,” said Wilson.
Wilson added that the same consultants who claimed there would be no problems in North Kent, were also called upon to refute citizen concerns in North Stormont, where the 100-megawatt Nation Rise wind power project is currently under construction. At appeal, citizens produced experts who said there were problematic turbine locations within the project; the province has designated the entire project area as a “highly vulnerable aquifer.”
Medical Officer of Health tells international audience that “the notion that extensive fracturing of bedrock could result from piles is ludicrous.”
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.”