CPP promises to be “responsible steward” of Ontario wind farms

April 17, 2018

Wind Concerns Ontario wrote a letter recently to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, expressing concern about the planned investment in a portion of U.S.-based power developer NextEra portfolio in Ontario, namely four wind power projects and two solar power facilities.

“Our concern with this announcement stems from the fact that at present, there are dozens of unresolved official reports of excessive environmental noise emissions from the four wind power projects in the portfolio,” Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson wrote in the letter.

WCO also provided excerpts from documents received under the Freedom of Information request process, related to one of the wind power projects involved in the purchase.

“Many of the formal complaints involve staff records of health impacts from sleep disturbance or deprivation (a known factor in health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stress, etc.) … we offer staff records (these are legal documents) pertaining to the NextEra Conestogo project.

“Staff notes in 2013: resident bothered, sleep disturbed for the family every day, headache, resident “had to stay out of the house all day due to operation of the [wind turbines”. (Master Incident Report 7145-93U9N3, which contains 30+ subordinate records and staff notes)

“And, Staff notes November 2015, noise from this project is an ‘ongoing issue.’ With regard to one specific complaint, the MOECC Provincial Officer wrote, “Subsequent to February of 2015 no resources have been made available for any additional after hour WTG [wind turbine] compliance monitoring/observation/measurements. Additionally, emission and imission audits required by the facility REA [Renewable Energy Approval] despite indicating compliance with the REA have been found to be incomplete at the time of submission. As no resources are available to confirm or deny an after hour WTG noise exceedance and EAB/EASIB have not rejected the above noted audit reports, Abatement Staff are left with no further options to address this complaint. As such: no further action on this IR.” (Source: Master Incident Report 6238-A3W75J)

WCO added that it was concerned the MOECC has not fulfilled its responsibilities as a regulator, as regards wind turbine noise.

Yesterday, Wind Concerns Ontario received a response from the CPP Investment Board Director of Industry and Stakeholder Affairs, Jeffrey Hodgson, who explained the Board’s decision.

“I do want to assure you that our singular objective is to achieve a maximum rate of return on our investments without undue risk of loss, securing the retirement of 20 million workers in Canada. CPPIB’s decisions are not influenced by government direction or any non-investment objectives.

When evaluating transactions such as this one, our organization engages professional advisors and undertakes thorough due diligence on elements including contracts and approvals. And as a long-term investor, we are committed to being a responsible steward of the assets in our portfolio in light of legal requirements, and environmental and safety guidelines.

Thank you again for sharing your perspective and providing us with an opportunity to respond.”

The purchase agreement must now go through a regulatory review by the federal government but if approved, the sale could close in the second quarter of 2018.

 

 

Environment Commissioner dead wrong on wind turbine health impacts

A pro-wind lawyer, now Ontario’s Eco Commissioner, makes unsupported statements on the health impacts of wind power generation facilities

The ECO ignored international evidence on wind turbine noise and health, and has failed the people of Ontario

April 10, 2018

Ontario’s Eco Commissioner or ECO, environmental lawyer Dianne Saxe, long known for her support of wind power development, has issued a very unusual and interestingly timed report.

Making Connections: straight talk about electricity in Ontario is an unabashed defence of the Ontario government’s energy policy, even with its criticism that government has not done enough.

We will leave it to others to comment on the statements about electricity demand, the supply mix, and whether selling off surplus power actually costs Ontario taxpayers and electricity ratepayers, but when it comes to the issue of the health impacts of wind turbines, we have no choice but to call out the Commissioner’s (deliberate) exclusion of the facts.

While acknowledging that there are some negative impacts from wind turbine construction and operation, such as the building of access roads, and the effect of turbines on bird and bat populations, when it comes to effects on humans, the ECO relies on a lawyer’s view of the evidence, which to her, is strictly the results of appeals before the quasi-judicial Environmental Review Tribunal or ERT.

“After extensive expert evidence, and having considered numerous studies from around the globe, the ERT has consistently dismissed appeals based on alleged harm to human health,” says the ECO. “The noise impacts of wind on people are controlled through noise limits in the REAs, and through mandatory setbacks established by the Environmental Protection Act.” (page 153)

What ECO Saxe neglects to say is that the basis on which to win an appeal on health before the ERT is virtually impossible.

One of the prime effects of exposure to the range of wind turbine noise emissions is sleep disturbance or sleep deprivation, which is widely acknowledged as a source of health problems such as high blood pressure, altered blood sugar levels, and annoyance or distress, which is in itself an adverse health impact. The situation in Ontario is that the moneyed wind power interests could afford to hire expert witnesses to support their side, while the appellants in these cases could usually only manage to have beleaguered citizens with their anecdotal reports of health effects. Any health care professionals who did venture forth to support these claims were badgered and had their professional qualifications questioned, sometimes merely on the basis of where they lived.

ECO Saxe asserts that there is extensive evidence and that there are numerous studies from around the world supporting the claim that there is no link between wind turbine noise and health effects.

This is false.

One expert witness, Dr Alun Evans, a professor emeritus, testified before the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines in Australia, and noted “A recent systematic review considered 154 published studies, eventually including 18 on the basis that they examined the association of wind turbines and human distress and were published in peer-review journals in English from 2003-2013. All found between wind turbines and human distress with levels of evidence of four and five (Bradford Hill Criteria). In addition, two of these studies showed a dose response relationship between distance from wind turbines and distress. Thus there is a consistent relationship between the proximity of turbines and human distress.”

In Ontario, Wind Concerns Ontario obtained thousands of reports from people living near wind turbines (in some cases, among them) via a request under the Freedom of Information Act process. WCO received over 4,500 records (though this number is almost certainly not complete) of complaints filed with the government since 2006.

The number of complaints is significant, but so too are staff notes in these documents. In total, explicit reference to the presence of health impacts from wind turbine noise emissions or environmental noise from the turbines was present in 35 percent of the reports we received.

We cannot help but question the political nature of this document. The ECO actually says, “the ECO strongly believes that fossil-fuelled generation, including the gas-fired generation that operates in Ontario, is more harmful to the environment than other electricity sources.” (page 150) In other words, there might be some problems but we have to accept them because the alternative is worse.

This is preposterous and flies in the face of the government’s mandate to protect both health and the environment.

Indeed, as a team of academics noted in their 2016 paper published in Nature Energy on how wind power problems were handled in Ontario, Ontario “public policy takes an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ view of [wind turbine noise and health] evidence rather than a more precautionary approach. … there is epidemiologic evidence t sustain various interpretations of wind turbine impacts on well-being.) Fast et al, Lessons learned from Ontario wind energy disputes, page 2).

One of the ECO’s goals is to ensure that the government of Ontario receives “fair, balanced and accurate information”.

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has failed in that goal, and failed the people of rural Ontario who have been forced through political ideology to live in the midst of huge power plants that do produce environmental noise, and are linked to serious health impacts.

 

To contact the ECO: commissioner@eco.on.ca  or 1075 Bay Street, Suite 605, Toronto, ON M5S 2B1

To contact us: Wind Concerns Ontario contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Infrasound chamber developed at U Waterloo

A team has created a special chamber in which infrasound can be produced, in the hopes of aiding accredited health researchers.

March 12, 2018

Richard Mann, assistant professor on Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, has informed Wind Concerns Ontario of a new development:

“We have successfully produced infrasound, as a mirror of that produced by Industrial Wind Turbines, in a chamber capable of accommodating a human test subject. This will permit others, with appropriate medical training and ethical oversight, to research the effects of infrasound on humans.”

In a PDF document with details on the project, he provides the rationale.

A significant number of people, who live in proximity to Industrial Wind Turbines, complain about a variety of physical and emotional symptoms. They believe these symptoms are caused by Infrasound produced by these Turbines. Some of these symptoms include, but are not limited to, nausea, tinnitus, sleep deprivation,

vertigo, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and other ailments, which to them, have a profound impact on quality of life.

Sadly, both the wind industry, and governments, have not responded to these concerns in any meaningful way, and those affected are given little if any support.

Some have actually had to leave their homes and have endured financial distress as a result.

Countless others continue to suffer with little hope for relief. To profoundly add to their distress, many are met with the inference that these problems are “all

in their head (Crichton et al, 2014; Chapman 2015).

“There is a genuine need to study human thresholds and/or response to infrasound exposure systematically and reliably in a lab setting,” Mann says.

“Our motivation for this project was based on the need for tools, to allow others with appropriate medical training and ethics approval, to move forward with this research.”

 

Read the document here: https://cs.uwaterloo.ca/sites/ca.computer-science/files/uploads/files/cs-2018-01.pdf

Australian court: wind turbine noise a “plausible pathway” to disease

Court finds an established association between annoyance (used as a medical term) and some diseases that result from prolonged stress

Pathway to Disease: Australian court links wind turbine noise with possible diseases
Hamilton Spectator
Natalie McGregor
15 February 2018

In a World first, Australia’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has declared that the “noise annoyance” caused by wind turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound “is a plausible pathway to disease”.

At the AAT hearing in Adelaide, the impacts of wind farm noise were considered by a senior Federal Court judge; the most thorough medial and scientific inquiry on the subject matter conducted in Australia to date.

The Tribunal’s findings were based on the “established association between noise annoyance and some diseases, including hypertension and cardiovascular disease, possibly mediated in part by disturbed sleep and/or psychological stress/distress”.

In its summary, and with unanimous support from relevant experts, AAT found that there were numerous recorded instances of wind turbine noise exceeding 40 dB(A) — a recognised threshold for annoyance/sleep disturbance.

“Even if it is not audible, low-frequency noise and infrasound may have other effects on the human body, which are not mediated by hearing but also not fully understood,” the summary reads.

“Those effects may include motion-sickness-like symptoms, vertigo, and tinnitus -like symptoms.”

It was also established that the current method adopted by windfarms to measure noise — the dB(A) scale was not suitable for the task, because a significant proportion of sound emitted by wind turbines is in the lower frequency range, where the scale cannot accurately identify the presence of frequencies or the peaks and troughs of their occurrence.

Instead, the dB(A) scale averages out the sound levels, masking the occurrence that could be causing harmful health side-effects.

The dB(A) weighting system is the basis of every wind turbine noise guideline in operation throughout the world.

With majority support from relevant experts, the Tribunal found that the most accurate way of determining the level and type of sound present at a particular location is to measure the sound at that location.

In conclusion, AAT noted the World Health Organisation stance that there is “sufficient evidence from large-scale epidemiological studies linking the populations exposure to environmental noise with adverse health effects”.

A Moyne shire resident living next to the MacArthur windfarm outlined the health impacts she has experienced since the wind farms were established.

“Severe ear pressure and pain, it’s actually in the inner ear; head pressure and headaches; my heart goes bananas, my whole body burns, and I feel sick,” she said.

“And (the symptoms) just come back immediately when in direct proximity to low-frequency emissions, it can happen anywhere, and it’s not just mild, it’s really debilitating.”

AGL started the consultation process with the community surrounding the proposed Willatook windfarm, raising concerns from residents about the proliferation of turbines in the area.

Community members met with South West Coast MP Roma Britnell over the weekend to voice concerns.

“Really (the meeting) centred around the fact that they will be surrounded, some of them, by the wind farms,” Ms Britnell said.

“They felt that it was a cluster effect and that it was unfair, that just because the power line goes through one area, they shouldn’t have to be the ones to had to take all the load of the 220-metre from tip- two-base structures in their backyard.”

Ms Britnell expressed no strong opinion in favour or against wind energy, simply saying we need to “get it right”.

“I am all for getting the renewable energy balance right, and wind is part of the solution, but wind is not the answer where there is no ability to store it,” Ms Britnell said.

“I’m afraid I still can’t meet the demand for supply when I want to milk my cows or have my shower when the wind isn’t blowing.

“Wind is not meeting the baseload and the biggest restriction I hear from community members is the supply issue, and that’s what the government is really not addressing.”

Tony Edney, director of the water foundation — an advocacy group for properly conducted, multidisciplinary research into health problems reported by people living in the vicinity of wind turbines and other industrial uses — told the Spectator that not every windfarm would necessarily generate problems.

“The location, topography, layout and design of the installation of factors that combine with climactic conditions to produce sound generating profiles of potential harm for some receiver sites,” Mr Edney said.

“And not everyone is adversely affected by wind farm noise. It is in part a matter of individual sensitivity or propensity, think of seasickness, and how we are not impacted equally by that malaise.”

Mr Edney said it was “simply no longer possible” for the industry to say that its technology was “clean, green and completely harmless”.

“Country people deserve to know what exactly they are dealing with when talk starts up about our windfarm proposed for their district,” Mr Edney said.
Hamilton Spectator

Quebec court: municipalities must protect citizens’ water

A municipality fighting back against a corporation has won its defence of a lawsuit, and its rights to defend citizens’ water has been upheld. The Precautionary Principle must be applied. This case will be important to Chatham-Kent area residents whose wells have failed during wind turbine construction activity.

March 1

Gastem continued Restigouche Southeast for $ 1 million to have adopted a regulation prohibiting drilling within 2 km of the sources of drinking water.

Oil and gas developer Gastem sued municipality Ristigouche-Partie-Sud-Est for $ 1 million for adopting a regulation prohibiting all drilling within 2 km of its drinking water sources. Photo: Radio-Canada

From ICI Radio Canada

Restigouche-South-East: Gastem dismissed

 

The Superior Court dismissed the motion of Gastem, which sued the Municipality of Ristigouche-Partie-Sud-Est for $ 1 million.

A text by Joane Bérubé with the collaboration of Sylvie Aubut and Ariane Perron-Langlois

The oil and gas exploration company claimed that the municipal by-law protecting drinking water had forced it to stop its exploration activities in the area.

In her decision, Justice Nicole Tremblay states that the by-law “is the result of serious work” and that “Restigouche must ensure the protection of watercourses in accordance with government rules”.

The judge ordered Gastem to pay Restigouche-Partie-Sud-Est $ 154,000 within 30 days of the decision.

The company will also have to pay $ 10,000 for part of the costs incurred by the Municipality to defend itself. The trial took place in September in New Carlisle, Gaspésie.

A relieved municipality

Restigouche-Part-Southeast welcomes with relief the decision of the court. For four years, the small municipality of 157 inhabitants tried to raise funds to finance his defense against Gastem. The Restigouche Solidarity campaign raised more than $ 340,000.

“Today, we raise our glass of drinking water to the health of Quebec’s water and to all those who supported us! “Said the mayor of Restigouche-Part-South-East, François Boulay.

According to Mayor Boulay, the bill for the expenses incurred by the Municipality amounts to $ 370,000.

The money that Gastem has to pay will be welcome. Should Gastem waive its recourse rights, the surpluses will be transferred to another case for drinking water in Quebec, says Mayor Boulay.

The Municipality, however, prefers to wait to hear Gastem’s decision on his right of appeal before disposing of it.

François Boulay, Mayor of Ristigouche-Partie-Sud-Est.

François Boulay, Mayor of Ristigouche-Partie-Sud-Est Photo: Radio-Canada

The case was very important for other municipalities, since it involved their power to legislate to protect drinking water. The judgment also contains several references to the duty of municipalities to protect the environment and the duty to subscribe to the precautionary principle.

Gastem’s reaction

Raymond Savoie, president of Gastem, says he is disappointed with the judgment. “We read the document, we try to understand; for the moment we are there, “says Savoie, who refuses for the moment to comment on the decision.

Mr. Savoie does not rule out the possibility that the company can appeal the decision, but prefers to wait for a more detailed analysis of the judgment.

In the region, Sylvain Roy, MNA for Bonaventure, is pleased with the verdict.

Impacts on other municipalities?

The deputy Roy believes that this is a “great victory for democracy and territorial sovereignty”. Mr. Roy hopes the decision will serve as case law for similar cases.

The lawyer of the Municipality, Jean-François Girard, is not surprised at the amounts that will pay Gastem in Restigouche-Part-Southeast. “We had,” he said, “very carefully pleaded the abusive nature of the appeal and the fact that it was up to Gastem to reimburse us for these costs. ”

The fact that the court recognizes this element of law is also very important, according to Mr. Girard. “It will force companies who want to sue municipalities to think twice if it is not legally sound,” he says.

For the lawyer, the victory is indeed that of a small municipality struggling with a pursuit that had no other purpose than to be punitive. “You have to think about it, there are 84 taxpayers in Restigouche! Says Girard.

The latter also sees the victory of the municipal world. “This judgment,” he adds, “recognizes the role of municipalities and the fact that municipalities can take up the cause according to the interest of their citizens, interest in the health and well-being of their population. . ”

Mayor Boulay also believes that the judgment brings very important elements on the municipal competences in environmental matters.

The president of the Quebec Federation of Municipalities (FQM), Jacques Demers, also welcomes the fact that the judgment reaffirms the municipal powers and their duty to intervene in the protection of the environment. “However, we must not forget that these powers must be exercised in compliance with the legislative framework in force,” says Demers.

MOECC’s Chappell to appear before West Grey Council

Ontario public servant and MOECC manager Rick Chappell (4th from left) at a meeting in December: adverse health effects are “a matter of opinion.” The MOECC mandate is to protect the environment and human health. [Photo: Wind Concerns Ontario]

District Manager for Owen Sound Rick Chappell (and apparent designated point person for issues on complaints and compliance) will appear before Council for the Municipality of West Grey, on Monday, March 5.

The Council meeting begins at 10 a.m. but  we have learned Mr. Chappell’s presentation is scheduled for 1:15 p.m.

The West Grey invitation is the latest in a series of Ontario municipal council invitations to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, asking for an explanation to hundreds — thousands — of unresolved complaints about wind turbine noise.

Mr. Chappell previously appeared before Council in Kincardine. A video record of his appearance, in which he states that the MOECC’s position is that infrasound has no effect on health, is here.(Start at minute 12)

Mr. Chappell has also stated that he understands “annoyance” is a result of exposure to wind turbine noise emissions, but he commented that the annoyance was like hearing barking dogs, and not related to serious adverse health effects. He is not correct: the World Health Organization and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency both acknowledge “annoyance” as a medical term denoting stress or distress, which can in turn result in adverse health impacts.

Rick Chappell also appeared recently before the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group. Following his presentation, representatives of the Working Group wrote to Chappell and stated that in their view, the MOECC was misleading the public. See a report on that meeting and read the letter here.

“Your presentation was disappointing. It appeared to be designed to mislead the public into thinking there are no health problems. You presented a rosy picture of a government that is busy working  on our behalf. But our experience shows that it is not.

You admitted at the meeting that you are aware that some people living near wind turbines are getting sick. You agree that IWTs cause annoyance and that leads to health issues. It is time to accept this and move forward— to protect the public so that they are not adversely impacted.”

In recent appearances, Mr. Chappell described the current situation in Ontario in which few wind power projects actually have completed a full I-emission audit which is needed to check compliance with the noise regulations; when there are noise complaints, he said, the response would be to check against an audit, but if there isn’t one, the MOECC simply requests that the power developer/operator complete the audit. (Any resemblance to a hamster wheel for Ontario residents living next to wind turbines is completely by design.)

Citizens from West Grey will be able to attend the meeting next week and observe. The Council meeting is also televised here.

Wind Concerns Ontario received information from the MOECC in 2017 on reports of excessive noise and vibration and learned that of the thousands of complaints received, more than half (54%) received no response at all from Ministry staff; a further 31% were noted as “planned” and 14% were “deferred” but only 1% were noted as a priority. The Ministry does not publicly report on “Spills” or complaints regarding wind turbine environmental noise.

Geologic engineer disagrees with MOECC on well water contamination

Former oil drilling roughneck now university professor says vibrations such as from pile-driving is well known to affect wells. The MOECC, however, relies on a report from the power developers’ consultant, which says it doesn’t. Choosing what to measure seems key.

Experts are lined up against the MOECC in their views on what’s happening in Chatham-Kent [Photo: Council of Canadians]

Debate continues on water wells and contamination

Jeffrey Carter

Special to Ontario Farmer

February 20, 2018

Geological engineer Maurice Dusseault wasn’t surprised to hear that Chatham-Kent water wells were contaminated in the wake of pile driving for wind turbines.

“Pile driving emits a lot of low-frequency energy, and it is not at all surprising to me that there could be related groundwater effects. The concept of large-amplitude, low frequency excitation as an aid to liquid flow is reasonably well-known,” the University of Waterloo professor said.

“Low frequency deformation waves are absolutely known to lead to fluctuation in ground water levels as well as changes in the particulate count in shallow groundwater wells.”

In addition, Dusseault said affected residents were well-advised in having their wells baseline tested prior to construction last summer. It’s the type of evaluation he recommends.

Before and after tests sent by the Water Wells First citizens’ group to RTI Laboratories in Michigan show an exponential increase [in] turbidity among the 14 affected wells, including [a] large proportion that can be attributed to Kettle [Point] black shale particles that are known to contain heavy metals, including uranium, arsenic and lead.

That’s not the conclusion reached by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, as outlined in letters recently sent to affected well owners living near the North Kent One project in the northern part of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.

While there’s been an admission that wells have indeed been contaminated, that contamination can only be attributed to “unidentified factors.”

Pile-driving activities associated with wind turbine development are not to blame, the MOECC maintains.

The MOECC, in coming to its conclusion, relied upon the vibration evaluations prepared for the developers Samsung and Pattern Energy, by Golder Associates Limited. Golder measured changes to particle velocity as a measure of vibration intensity created by pile driving.

“The ministry has reviewed Golder’s assessment and agreed with the conclusion that any pile driving -induced vibrations at your well would have been much lower than those created during common daily activities around the homes,” a letter to one of the affected families states.

The parameters used by Golder, however, may be flawed…. Read more

Chaos on Amherst Island

Road closures on February 7: concerns about safety and violations of road use agreements [Photo: Brian Little]

February 9, 2018

Of course, one expects there to be a certain amount of upset when a community is in the midst of construction, especially such a huge project as the (unwanted, unneeded) wind power project on Amherst Island.

But residents there are deeply concerned over unscheduled road closures, road blockages and more. On Tuesday, a resident reports, roads were closed so that people could not leave their properties at all—questions were raised about access by emergency vehicles, should they have been needed.

In a recent report by Global News, residents state that unscheduled road closures have meant missed ferry trips to the mainland, but there is more. The local mayor says the wind power developer is actually out of compliance with agreements and contract conditions.

Loyalist Township Mayor Bill Lowry says he’s exhausted and frustrated that promises that were made to the municipality have been broken. He says residents are voicing their concerns to council but their patience is running out.

“How long do we have to take this, how long does the island have to take this? It’s been far too long, we’ve been three months of being out of compliance,” Lowry, told Global News.

“I’m in communication last week and this week with the IESO, which is the Independent Electricity System Operations, which are basically responsible for the construction of these energy projects. I’m so frustrated with the province in the fact that they don’t have a ministry that’s coming to our aid.”

In a statement to CKWS News, Windlectric Inc. says in part, “there is an agreed upon Operations Plan that sets out how to best build the project in a way that is minimally disruptive for area residents. Our goal is for all aspects of the project to run smoothly.”

Where is the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change? Where is the IESO? Where is the Ontario Ministry of Labour?

Where are the government assurances of a better, safe environment for the people of Amherst Island?

 

#MOECC #IESO

 

Halt approval process on Otter Creek wind farm, citizens say

Samples of sediment laden water. “Cold-blooded MOECC” [Photo: Chris Ensing CBC]

“Black Water” in wells in nearby North Kent has residents concerned about water safety and wind turbine construction. The lesson from Walkerton is that the MOECC is responsible for water quality, they say

February 5, 2018

Citizens’ group Water Wells First is calling the Ontario government decision to allow temporary water tanks to be removed from North Kent homes without water supply is “cold-blooded.”

Last week, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) informed residents that the results of the Ministry’s own testing of the water that is so sediment-laden some samples appear black, showed that water quality has “deteriorated” but that there is no association with wind turbine construction and pile driving.

“It’s a strong arm tactic,” said Water Wells First Kevin Jakubec at a news conference held this afternoon at one local farm that has been without water for months.

Residents in nearby Wallaceburg are extremely concerned as the proposed Otter Creek wind power project will be on the same Kettle Point Black Shale geology as the North Kent project.

“The Ministry response to the damaged well in North Kent is not good enough,” says Violet Towell, spokesperson for community group Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns. “The deterioration of water quality in these wells didn’t just happen. As Mr Justice O’Connor confirmed in his 2002 report on the Walkerton water tragedy, the MOECC has responsibility for ensuring a safe water supply in Ontario — they should not stop investigating until they find out what is going on here.”

The Wallaceburg group says that the Otter Creek project should not receive a Renewable Energy Approval until the well water situation in North Kent is “thoroughly investigated and resolved,” says Towell.

It is a condition of Renewable Energy Approvals that “adverse effects” must be prevented; these are described in the Environmental Prevention Act, Section 1 (1) and include “adverse effect on the health of any person,” “impairment of the safety of any person,” “rendering any property or plant or animal unfit for human use,” and “loss of enjoyment of the normal use of property.”

To contact the Wallaceburg group: WAWC@kent.net

 

 

 

Wind turbine collapse raises safety concerns

The wind industry says such events are rare: but accident statistics from Europe say, they’re not

January 20, 2018

The collapse yesterday of a wind turbine in South Kent, in Chatham-Kent made for stunning photographs and multiple news stories (even in Toronto!).

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is said to be monitoring clean-up of the turbine site, to make sure the hazardous chemicals in the turbine are disposed of properly; the Ontario Ministry of Labour is also said to be looking into the incident.

Meanwhile, amid claims of how rare the incident is, the U.S.-based owner/operator is investigating the cause.

The wind power trade association and lobbyist, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) weighed in, saying Canada has thousands of wind turbines and such incidents are rare.

But the collapse of the CK turbine has raised questions. Especially when several other news stories appeared the same day such as a report from an international website that monitors wind turbine accidents which says many countries are considering new setbacks for safety. And, a report from the U.S. notes that wind turbines require more maintenance as they age: soon, the average age of U.S. turbines will be 11 years.

Why was the collapse not detected by the operator? It is rumoured that someone passing by saw the destroyed turbine and reported it.

What sort of maintenance is mandated for these huge power generators, and were there routine inspections?

What public reporting is there for wind turbine incidents? The companies are required by their Renewable Energy Approval to report any incidents such as blade failure or fire to the Ontario government and the appropriate municipality, but when there was a fire in the K2 project in 2017, the municipality was not notified until some time after — a news report at the time said a company representative did not know which turbine had burned, and was driving around with his car window open, trying to find it.

In another project in Ontario, the wind turbine was visibly leaning “off plumb” and was eventually secured with guy wires, prior to foundation repairs.

There is apparently a report that a turbine blade went through the roof of a house in Chatham-Kent in 2009 (we’re looking for that).

As for fires, the wind industry’s own journal, NA Windpower, published an article some years ago titled, “It’s not ‘if’ it’s when,” referring to the frequency of wind turbine fires.

Clearly, these incidents are not as “rare” as the wind industry would have you believe.

The Caithness accident report from Europe says that between 2013 and 2017, there were 167 accidents per year, including fires, broken blades, and injuries/deaths among workers. Blade failure is the most common incident, followed by fires.

Caithness concludes:

Some countries are finally accepting that industrial wind turbines can pose a significant public health and safety risk. In June 2014, the report of the Finnish Ministry of Health called for a minimum distance of 2 km from houses by concluding: “The actors of development of wind energy should understand that no economic or political objective must not prevail over the well being and health of individuals.” In 2016 Bavaria passed legislation requiring a minimum 2km distance between wind turbines and homes, and Ireland are considering a similar measure.         

The Ontario government continues to dodge its responsibility on wind turbine noise by relying on computer models and its notion of compliance, despite growing evidence and thousands of complaints of noise and vibration.

With yesterday’s event, the government needs to assure Ontario’s rural citizens that it is doing everything it can in the area of safety.

Other questions relate to the technical aspects of the wind “farm” approvals:

  • What sort of design safety margins are required with regards to the material properties?
  • What kind of stress, natural frequency and fatigue analysis is required to be submitted for these when an application is drawn up?

 

  • Who reviews the technical part of the application? What are the qualifications of the reviewer? Are those applications ever farmed out to professional engineers who have the appropriate experience to conduct the review?
  • What inspection procedures are used during installation and afterwards during operation? Who conducts these inspections? What inspection reports are filed and where are they filed? What are the qualifications of those who review the inspection reports?
  • How often do IWT inspections need to be done…. and how are they being done after it is up and running so that relevant data is actually acquired?
  • How many IWTs are out there of this design or similar?
  • What design specifications are being followed for the design and manufacturing? For example, do they require x-ray weld non-destructive examination for all tower welds?
  • The Ministry of Labour is now reported to be involved in the Chatham-Kent turbine failure. If this IWT failed for a reason that can’t be readily identified, what position has the Ministry of Labour taken (or needs to take) on behalf of all the workers who install and maintain these things?

Does it mean that these are unsafe for people to be anywhere near both during construction and afterwards during operation until such time as the root cause failure analysis is completed?

Many questions, few answers.