Risk of turbine construction, operation high for Nation Rise project: geoscientist

October 15, 2018

ERT chair Maureen Cartier-Whitney hears evidence on groundwater. Geoscientist said it is possible there is no effective mitigation for the vibration produced by turbine construction and operation.

Finch, Ontario — The Nation Rise wind power project, which received Renewable Energy Approval in May, poses a significant risk to people and the environment due to vibration connected to the construction and operation of the wind turbines, a geoscientist told the Environmental Review Tribunal when the citizen-funded appeal resumed today.

Angelique Magee said that the project area is located on the former Champlain Sea and the nature of the soils plus the presence of Leda or “quick” clay represents a “high potential” for landslides. She provided details of landslides that have occurred in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, including one that resulted in loss of life. She also recounted the story of the village of Lemieux which was evacuated due to risk of a landslide because of Leda clay and which subsequently did slide into the Nation River, causing a loss of land, killing fish and destroying fish habitat.

Leda clay is prevalent throughout the region, Magee said. The soil is such that when it is disturbed by vibration, it can become liquid, thus causing the landslides. The risk is high, McGee said, and would pose a serious risk to human health and a serious and irreversible risk to the environment.

She mentioned the fact that Eastern Ontario also has many earthquakes which would add to the risk, due to seismic vibration. She was asked if mitigation is possible, and answered that the proponent is supposed to identify all the wells in the project area, but has not fulfilled that requirement of the Renewable Energy Approval. “There is no assurance of the quantity or quality of water.”

The project area is situated on a “highly vulnerable aquifer” she noted and the wells serving homes, businesses and farms are often shallow or “dug” wells as opposed to drilled wells. The proponents’ information on wells is out of date, she added. The proponent’s lawyer, John Terry, asked if it isn’t true that there are many areas of vulnerable aquifers in Ontario. “Yes,” she responded  “but it is important to consider local characteristics. In this case, that means the presence of the shallow wells, which would be affected.”

A third risk factor is the presence of karst topography which is characterized by fissures and can lead to contamination of groundwater in certain situations, construction vibration included.

The geoscientist was asked about the use of quarries in the proponents’ environmental assessment, which she said was not appropriate. The turbines would cause constant vibration, she said, which different from blasting occasionally.

When asked if the conditions of the REA would prevent harm, Ms Magee said, no. The measures proposed would not necessarily prevent a landslide or contamination of the groundwater, and the proponent has not conducted the proper identification of the water wells in the area, or done a proper assessment of the impact of seismic vibration on the soil and aquifer.

The only mitigation that would ensure no harm to people or the environment would be to not locate turbines in vulnerable areas such as this, McGee said.

In his cross-examination, lawyer Terry suggested that Magee’s interest was simply that she owns property in the Nation Rise project area, and her real concern was the value of her property. “My concerns are primarily based on geology,” she answered, “and yes, if the wind turbines affect the wells then I am concerned that homes will not be sellable.” Mr. Terry also tried to suggest that Ms Magee used Wikipedia as a source of information to which she responded that she used scientific studies and papers to prepare her evidence, the same papers that may have been used in the Wikipedia entry. She said, she may have used the Wikipedia entry I order to use language non-scientists could understand, she said.

The hearing continues October 16, and closing arguments will be presented in Toronto on November 23rd.

The proponent has not fulfilled a requirement to identify all wells in the project area. Signs demanding water testing line a street in Finch, Ontario.

 

 

Wind power developer failing to meet conditions for well water in North Stormont

October 9, 2018

Hello! EDP! We have a well here! Citizens stand up and demand to be counted (Photo: Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, John Irven)

FINCH, Ontario — If the approval signed by the Wynne government for the Nation Rise wind power project were a bird, it probably wouldn’t be able to fly, because it is so weighted down with conditions.

One of those conditions was that the power developer, EDP of Spain, identify and map all water wells in the project area near the proposed wind turbines, because of concerns about the construction activities on the local aquifer.

That hasn’t happened, say residents. Now, signs are popping up all over the country roads and in the communities of North Stormont, as part of an information campaign about risk to the local water supply, and to demand that wells be identified and tested by the developer. Residents are concerned about the impact of vibration from pending wind turbine construction and turbine operations on their water wells.

The “Nation Rise” wind power project is currently under appeal, but the power developer is supposed to be proceeding with meeting the terms and conditions of its contract with the Ontario government, which was approved just days before the June election.

One of those conditions is that the company identify certain wells and “make reasonable efforts, to the satisfaction of the Ministry [of the Environment], to contact owners of all active water wells within 1 km from each individual Equipment, communication tower, and meteorological towers, and seek permission to undertake a groundwater survey at existing water wells. “

The problem is, EDP’s count of the number of water wells that need identification and testing does not correspond to the summary of the situation in the Renewable Energy Approval or REA. As a result, wells may be missed in the pre-construction survey and then be ineligible for help should problems arise after the power project is built.

According to Margaret Benke, spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, the power developer may be off by as much as 50 per cent of area wells.

People are worried, Benke says, for several reasons: a wind power project in the Chatham-Kent area is linked to disrupted function and outright failure of as many as 10 percent of area wells, resulting in contaminated “black” water. The situation is so dire that the new Ontario government has pledged an investigation of the situation.

The wells in North Stormont depend on an aquifer that has been designated as “highly vulnerable,” she says. The signs being posted at the end of North Stormont driveways say “EDP we want our well water tested.”

“We do not want EDP to be able to say that they did not know that we have wells,” Benke explains. “They counted only 444 domestic wells within 2 km of a turbine/infrastructure, although there are 816 residences in the same area.  As long as this project continues to proceed, we want our wells taken into consideration for health and safety.”

That count does not include wells used by local farm operations for livestock, which could also be affected by the vibration from construction and turbine operation.

The danger to water supply was one of the principal issues noted in the appeal launched against the project, and appears also to be a concern to the provincial environment ministry, reflected in the conditions in the project approval. In fact, even though the appeal had already begun, the power developer actually filed notice that it was changing the construction method for the wind turbines, which have huge concrete foundations. This material change to the project has never been subjected to public scrutiny and was not part of the company’s documentation on the project.

“It’s not good enough,” says Benke. “We’ve seen what happened to the people in North Kent, some of whom still don’t have any water, not even to take a bath or shower—any damage to the aquifer could be serious and irreversible harm to the environment, and a risk to human health.”

The appeal resumes October 15th in Finch Ontario, with testimony from an expert in hydrogeology.

For more information go to:

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Nation Rise project will create noise, health problems: WCO president to Tribunal

(C) ONTARIO FARMER

July 31, 2018

Report by Tom van Dusen

Finch, Ontario — Sitting demurely and speaking quietly, on July 24 the volunteer president of Wind Concerns Ontario blasted the provincial government approach to monitoring industrial wind turbines, accusing it of ignoring complaints about noise, health and other issues, or deferring them with no subsequent action.

Jane Wilson made  her comments while presenting as a witness during an Environmental Review Tribunal hearing into the Nation Rise wind power project planned for Stormont County. The hearing is scheduled to continue through August 2.

Currently engaged in the approval process, the project is sponsored by EDP Renewables Canada and calls for installation of some 33 turbines in North Stormont farm country delivering a total of 100 megawatts of power that, opponents observe, the province doesn’t need.

Headed by local resident Margaret Benke, opponents were hopeful the new Doug Ford government would cancel Nation Rise just as it did the White Pines wind project in Prince Edward County. But that didn’t happen and opponents’ legal fees and other expenses are up to $20,000. Benke noted that, with Ford in place, Nation Rise isn’t likely to proceed and yet opposing residents are still on the hook for costs.

Government not enforcing the law

A registered nurse, Wilson said Wind Concerns represents a coalition of more than 30 community groups across Ontario.

She emphasized that the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change–renamed Environment, Conservation and Parks — has pledged to protect the environment and human health from any turbine side effects.

She cited former Environment Minister Glen Murray congratulating his officials for responding quickly to complaints and enforcing the law. However, Wilson’s review of incident reports obtained through Access to Information indicated the ministry doesn’t respond to all complaints and “does not, therefore, enforce the law.”

No answer to that

Total number of incident reports filed with the ministry between 2006 and 2016 was 4,574, Wilson told Maureen Cartier-Whitney, chair of the one-person panel. Records showed that in more than 50 per cent of formal complaints, there was no ministry response. Another 30 per cent were deferred. “In fact, only one percent received priority response.”

While he asked for some clarification, Paul McCulloch of the ministry’s Legal Services Branch, didn’t dispute Wilson’s basic facts. Representing EDP, lawyer . Grant Worden also offered no challenges to Wilson.

The repetitive nature of various complaints suggests, Wilson continue, that wind power developers are failing to live up to the terms of their approvals by allowing conditions triggering adverse effects including on health, to continue.

“Documented health effects include headache, sleep deprivation, annoyance, and ringing or pressure sensation in the head and ears. Most disturbing was the fact that these health effects were reported many times, and also among children.”

Wilson indicated that 39 per cent of 2006-2016 incident reports referred explicitly to sleep disturbance which is generally blamed for a myriad of diseases and disorders.

“Given the thousands of unresolved noise complaints in Ontario, and given Health Canada results of adverse health effects at distances of 550 metres to 1 km, it is reasonable to question whether the Nation Rise power project will not also engender community reports of excessive noise and adverse effects.”

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

To help support the appeal, which is bringing forward issues never presented to the ERT before, please send a cheque to Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, c/o Wind Concerns Ontario, PO Box 509, 250 Wellington main Street, Wellington ON  K0K 3L0

 

Nation Rise project: significant concerns over health, environmental damage

 

North Stormont group asks Premier Ford to halt wind power project, legal action

Nation Rise project not needed; community group says cancel it now, save millions

Expensive legal action will cost taxpayers more for unnecessary power project, community group says

OTTAWA  July 3, 2018— The citizens’ group opposing the 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project asked Premier Doug Ford and his new government today to state its intention to cancel the project’s contract, and halt legal action related to its approval.

The power project, to be located just south of Ottawa, received Renewable Energy Approval just days before the writ for Ontario’s June election was drawn up.

The community filed an appeal of the approval, based on environment and health concerns, which is set to begin Thursday July 5 with a hearing in Finch, Ontario.

Given the new government’s campaign pledge to end contracts for projects which do not have final approval, however, the legal action is a waste of time and taxpayer money, says Margarent Benke, spokesperson for  the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont.

Ministry of the Environment employees and lawyers must travel from Toronto and mount a defence of the approval, Benke says, which makes no sense if the government plans to cancel the unnecessary power project.

“We made an urgent request today for action on the Nation Rise project. It will cost the people of Ontario a base price of $500 million over 20 years, and add to our electricity bills,” says Benke. “The Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing will represent even more cost to the government and to the people of Ontario, and more financial and emotional strain to the people of North Stormont.”
 
The power project would expose citizens near Finch, Crysler and Berwick to environmental noise from huge, 3.2-megawatt wind turbines; most of the turbines would also be located on an area designated as a “highly vulnerable aquifer.”
Ontario currently has a surplus of electrical power; wind power projects produce power out-of-phase with demand, and Ontario’s Auditor General has criticized the contracts for their above market rates. Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk has said Ontario electricity customers overpaid for renewable power by $9.2 billion.
Contact: info@concernedcitizensofnorthstormont.ca
contact@windconcernsontario.ca 
 

Citizen group files appeal of Ottawa-area wind power project approval

NEWS RELEASE

Community group to appeal wind power approval

Well-water protection, noise are issues of concern

For immediate release

Ottawa, May 29, 2018 – A community group has filed a formal appeal of the Renewable Energy Approval given by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) for the “Nation Rise” wind power project.

“People in our quiet rural communities are unhappy with the prospect of an industrial-scale wind power project, particularly due to concerns about noise emissions from the wind turbines,” says Margaret Benke, spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of North Stormont. “This 100-megawatt power project is very large in scope, spanning 12,000 acres. The plans are for 33 industrial wind turbines, equivalent to 60-storey office buildings.  It will have a huge impact on our communities.”

Of prime concern is the potential to damage well water supply, as a result of the drilling and pile-driving necessary to anchor the top-heavy turbines. “Of the 33 proposed turbines, 31 are slated to be directly on top of what the MOECC has designated as ‘highly vulnerable aquifers’,” says Benke. “Up to 10,000 wells for villages, homes, farms and businesses between North Stormont and almost to the Ottawa River to the northeast, depend on this fragile source of water.”

Water wells in the Chatham-Kent area have been contaminated with black sediment following turbine construction last year, and there are calls for a public health investigation as a result.

“We are very worried about what could happen to our water,” says Benke.

Noise is a serious concern too, especially because the MOECC has received thousands of noise complaints in Ontario, but few have been resolved, says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson.

“The reports we obtained from the MOECC under Freedom of Information show that the Ministry has not responded effectively to reports of excessive turbine noise, and instead relies on hypothetical, computer-generated noise models from the turbine manufacturers. Meanwhile, families can’t sleep at night—some have even abandoned their homes,” says Wilson. “That is not the protection of the environment and health Ontarians expect from their government.

“With so many reports of problems, the people in the North Stormont area are right to be concerned,” Wilson adds.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 5th, tentatively in Finch, Ontario.

The Nation Rise power project will be located about 40 km southeast of Ottawa, and includes the communities surrounding Finch, Berwick and Crysler. It is being developed by Portuguese power developer EDP Renewables.

SOURCE: Wind Concerns Ontario, Concerned Citizens of North Stormont

CONTACT: Margaret Benke macbenke@aol.com  Jane Wilson president@windconcernsontario.ca

www.windconcernsontario.ca

Concerned Citizens of North Stormont is a community group member of the Wind Concerns Ontario coalition.

 

Most of the turbines planned will be constructed on a “vulnerable aquifer” that serves 10,000 wells in Eastern Ontario

Wind power exec accused of defamation against expert witness

October 28, 2017

Citizens of Dutton Dunwich oppose the Invenergy wind power project: is the company engaging in slander in the U.S.?

A qualified professional real estate appraiser in Illinois alleges that an executive with U.S. wind power developer Invenergy is conducting a campaign of defamation and slander against him, in an effort to have him disqualified from testifying as an expert witness on wind turbines and property values.

Michael McCann wrote a letter on October 20th to the County Supervisors in Palo Alto, Iowa, to counter statements made about him by the Invenergy employee, Michael Blazer, who is both a company vice-president and chief legal officer.

Apparently, Blazer filed an online complaint with the Illinois licensing board that governs the practice of real estate appraisers in that state, then took a screenshot of his complaint and filed that as proof that Mr McCann was “under investigation” by the licensing board. There was no public documentation of any complaint.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation did process the online submission but found it to be without merit, and dismissed any complaint against Mr. McCann. His license is not in fact under review.

Nevertheless, McCann alleges in his letter, months later Invenergy and Blazer continue to repeat the story that McCann is under suspicion, in an attempt to prevent McCann’s testimony about “injurious” effects of the presence of wind turbines on property values.

“This was a blatant attempt by an Invenergy officer and attorney acting as complainant, judge, jury and firing squad to advance his corporate interests by sullying my reputation, and apparently to try to prevent me from testifying regarding my well documented findings regarding the significant impact of wind turbines on neighboring values.”

Read the letter by Michael McCann to the Palo Alto County government here. McCann letter to Palo Alto County Iowa October 20 2017  Mr. McCann is currently seeking legal advice on future actions.

“This attempt to discredit an expert witness by a wind power developer is very worrying,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “It is hard enough for ordinary citizens and community groups to achieve any kind of justice against these huge, wealthy power developers, without active campaigns to slander and discredit witnesses.”

Black well water protest continues in Chatham-Kent

September 6, 2017

Residents of Chatham-Kent who are concerned about reports that as many as 12 water wells may have been affected by pile driving activity during construction of the North Kent II wind power project continue their demonstration at the site today.

The power developer filed for an injunction against them last week, citing concern for the safety of construction workers. The demonstration has been peaceful, and was conducted through the Labour Day holiday weekend.

The campaign has been organized by local community group Water Wells First, which filed an appeal against the power project. The appeal was withdrawn when the appellants were not allowed time to have experts review a hydrology report submitted by the developer.

Chatham-Kent has asked the Ontario government to halt construction until the situation has been reviewed, and property owners affected have been offered free water testing by independent laboratories.

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has taken no action.

For more frequent updates on the demonstration, please check on our Facebook page, and/or at Water Wells First.

Wind developer threat spurs emergency council meeting in Prince Edward County

Power developer threatens legal action while contract status is in doubt. Citizens are rallying [Photo Wayne Prout]
The Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA, the wind power trade association/lobbyist/influencer has a document on community engagement for its developer members in which it advises, people have a right to object to your project.

Germany-based power developer WPD seems to have missed that page. Not only has the company faced the fact the community in Prince Edward County by and large does not want a huge wind power development as evidenced by a Not A Willing Host designation and numerous resolutions at council, but it has also seen its project decline from 29 turbines to 27 then virtually razed of 18 more by the Environmental Review Tribunal.

Undaunted in its quest for revenue from its rich contract with the Ontario government, the company now threatens to begin construction on the remaining nine turbines on Sunday, September 10. And in a move tantamount to walking into a room and putting a gun on the table, WPD sent a letter to Prince Edward County Council threatening legal action and substantial costs should the municipal government try to obstruct its project.

Mayor Robert Quaiff has called an emergency meeting at Shire Hall in Picton on Thursday at 1 PM, and Councillor Steve Ferguson is hosting a Town Hall in Milford, next week.

Here is a notice from the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County:

Update on White Pines wind project in Prince Edward County

The Tribunal’s decision of last April to remove 18 turbines from the White Pines wind project — two thirds of the total Project — seems not to have deterred wpd in the slightest.  On the last day of July wpd served Notice to the County that it intends to start construction on the 9 remaining turbines in the project as of Sunday, September 10th.  

In response to this Notice, South Marysburgh Councillor Steve Ferguson is calling a town hall meeting in Milford on September 5th to provide information about the wind project and to answer questions about the project’s implications to Milford residents and the surrounding area. Mayor Robert Quaiff and other Council members as well as municipal staff, will be on hand to answer questions.   

Also on the meeting’s agenda is a Notice of Dispute that was issued to the County on August 23.  wpd has given the County 10 days response time on a number of permit applications that were delivered to the County along with the Notice:  

“In accordance with the terms of the RUA (Road Users Agreement), please advise of your decision on these applications within 10 days of this correspondence. . .The County’s failure to issue the permits to which wpd is entitled under its REA (Renewable Energy Approval) will be taken by wpd to be an act of bad faith and an attempt to frustrate its wind energy project.  If we do not hear from you on or before September 7th, 2017, we will engage our external counsel to take all steps necessary to enforce our rights before the Divisional Court on an urgent basis and to seek our costs for doing so.”

 

While wpd blusters about others’ bad faith, its own actions tell a different story.  

The company made no effort to comply with the REA condition to set up a Community Liaison Committee within three months of receiving its REA and has made no effort in the two years since receiving the approval. 

To make things worse, wpd has wrapped itself in a cloak of silence.  All pretense of public consultation has been dropped.   wpd now declines to respond to any questions from members of the public.  While everyone realizes there must be major repercussions after such a significant down-sizing, everything is now handled by wpd out of the public eye. 

This has only fuelled speculation about the status of wpd’s FIT (Feed-In-Tariff) contract, the OEB approval for leave to construct a (now non-existent) 28-kilometre, 69-kv transmission line, the change from a transmission to a distribution project and all that involves, Hydro One’s potential involvement and rumours that wpd may be opting to hang power lines above-ground on poles in direct contradiction to their REA commitment to bury the lines (with two minor exceptions where overhead lines were required).  

 

As September 10th draws closer, members of the public of Prince Edward County are looking for answers.

 

How did a dangerous wind farm idea get so far?

 

The owners and pilots association couldn’t believe anyone would put turbines at an airport

 

The approval for proposed Fairview Wind power project has finally been revoked by the Environmental review Tribunal, on the basis of serious harm to human health and risk to aviation safety — the project was close to two airports.

Our question is, HOW did this power project get as far as it did? How could Transport Canada not block this? Why should taxpayers have had to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect safety and the environment from their own Ontario Ministry of the ENVIRONMENT and Climate Change?

In the original decision issued last fall, the Environmental Review Tribunal accepted the appellants’ aviation expert testimony, which included a rejection of any “mitigation” proposed by the wind power developer, wpd.

In specific the panel noted:

[156] For these reasons, Tribunal accepts that the margin for error posed by introducing the proposed wind turbines at their proposed locations would be inadequate to either prevent collision with a wind turbine, or prevent a crash due to wind turbine-induced turbulence.

and

[163] The Tribunal finds that Mr. Cormier has provided informed criticisms of the proposed mitigation measures that were not contradicted by the Director’s or Approval Holder’s experts, and, therefore, the Tribunal accepts Mr. Cormier’s evidence in this regard. As such, the Tribunal finds that there is insufficient evidence that mitigation measures will be effective.

The reason for the delay in revocation of the approval was because a secondary issue was harm to the Little Brown Bat and the Tribunal felt it necessary —despite the clear risk to human health — to review and evaluate the mitigation procedures proposed. The Tribunal in its decision released this week, did find that the mitigation measures were acceptable but in any event, the risk to human health was sufficient to cancel the approval.

In the October decision, the Tribunal noted that documents from the power developer referred to Transport Canada in an apparent claim that that government agency was OK with proposals for new approaches for pilots to avoid the turbines. However, the Tribunal noted that the Transport Canada letter was “carefully worded” and did not, in effect, provide approval for the power developer’s notion of how to avoid plane crashes.

At “the end of the day” as lawyers say, we are left scratching our head as to how such a proposal could get so far when common sense would seem to dictate otherwise, and why our own government could be so blinded by its “green” ideology that it is more than willing to defend the proposal?

Victory for turtles, environment and community in Prince Edward County

“…in the public interest … to remove from the REA turbines … in Blandings turtle habitat”

Blandings turtle: to allow “remedy” would be to allow extirpation of the endangered species

The Environmental Review Tribunal released its long awaited decision on the remedies proposed by wind power developer WPD for its White Pines project in Prince Edward County Ontario to protect the endangered Blandings turtle and Little Brown Bat.

Relevant sections of the decision:

[163] In light of all of the circumstances, based on the evidence provided and taking

into account the purposes of the EPA in support of environmental protection and

renewable energy, the Tribunal finds that it is in the public interest to alter the Director’s

decision by amending the REA in part. The Tribunal finds that it is in the public interest

to add the Approval Holder’s proposed Condition L2 to the REA, but to alter that

condition by removing Tables 3-1 to 3-3, in the NRSI Plan. The Tribunal further finds

that it is in the public interest to remove from the REA the turbines proposed to be

accessed by the proposed upgraded secondary and tertiary municipal road segments

and by the intersections in Blanding’s turtle habitat, specifically Turbines 12, 13, 14, 15,

16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29.

 

and

Condition J7.1. The Company shall implement the Mitigation Plan

for Operation of the White Pines Energy Project, dated July 21,

2016 prepared by Stantec Consulting Ltd., including:

1. Implement the monitoring and mitigation measures as

outlined in Table 2 of the Mitigation Plan;

2. Adjust cut-in speed to 5.5 m/s between sunset and sunrise

from May 1 to September 30 at all turbines for the operating

life of the Project; and

3. In the event of a mortality of a bat species that is a species

at risk, successively increase the operational mitigation as

detailed in Table 2 of the Mitigation Plan.

The question that remains is, with 60 percent of the project effectively removed, how can WPD meet its obligation to provide 75 percent of the power in its contract?

The entire project may have to be reformulated…it remains to be seen whether the company will opt to do that by using 4.1 MW turbines perhaps, or by finding other locations, but the company may have run out of time to do that.

The decision is here:ERT15068-White PInes

Here is a recording of lawyer Eric Gillespie’s closing remarks at the remedy hearing held in Wellington, last January. “The only remedy is to revoke [the approval]. … the result of mitigation will be to extirpate a species.”

EricGillespieClosingRemarksWhite PInes