Environment Minister’s response on altered well water: “generalities”

November 23, 2017

MPP demands that wind power projects be cancelled over concerns about Black Shale and polluted wells

 

MPP Monte McNaughton presents a bottle of well water to Minister Chris Ballard, compliments of the people of Chatham-Kent. The Minister’s response: “generalities”

 

In Question Period on November 20, Monte McNaughton, MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex rose to ask the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change what action was being taken for people in his riding whose well water has been rendered “undrinkable swill” during construction for a nearby wind power project.

Minister Ballard responded with, in his own words, “generalities” and specifically skipped over answering the question about the quality of well water to say that “renewable energy projects are a necessity.”*

Here, from Hansard, is what the Minister said in response to Mr McNaughton.

Mr. Monte McNaughton: My question today is for the Minister of Energy. In my riding of Lambton–Kent–Middlesex, your ministry is pushing ahead with two new industrial wind turbine developments, the North Kent 1 and Otter Creek wind farms. These wind farms will generate electricity we don’t need and contribute to pushing hydro bills even higher than they already are.

These developments include turbines almost 200 metres high with foundations that require pile driving into black shale bedrock, rock containing heavy metals. This bedrock carries water of the aquifer. Since the start of construction on the North Kent project, 14 water wells have become turbid and undrinkable.

Mr. Speaker, we’ve seen the impact of pile driving into black shale from the North Kent project. Why is the minister allowing construction to continue there, and why is he jeopardizing the drinking water of another community by going forward with the Otter Creek project?

Hon. Glenn Thibeault: To the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

Hon. Chris Ballard: I’m happy to speak in some generalities around the need for wind turbines, and the very vigorous process that our government puts in place to make sure that the turbines are sited safely and that there is good, strong consultation with the community.

Speaker, we take the concerns regarding the environment and human health very seriously. I’ll say that we adhere to a very strict renewable energy approvals process.

Thanks to clean air and clean energy—and let me speak to the fundamentals for a second—Ontario has saved more than $4 billion in annual health and environmental costs because of this government’s commitment to clean energy.

Unlike the PCs, we can’t sit idly by. Renewable energy projects are a necessity and a crucial part of our low-carbon carbon switch, and we’re not going to back down from our—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. I stand, you sit.

Supplementary.

Mr. Monte McNaughton: Back to the Minister of Energy: These wind farms will forever end food production on some of the best agricultural land in our country. And we are talking about an environmentally sensitive area, home to 24 species at risk, and within a major flight path for migratory birds. It is fragmenting the bedrock, turning clear, clean water into dirty, undrinkable swill, yet the project is going ahead even though the government has suspended the large renewable procurement II process because there is no need for additional electricity.

When the minister made that announcement in September 2016, I said that North Kent 1 and Otter Creek should be cancelled as well. Had the minister cancelled these two projects, the long-term savings would amount to $570 million. If stopping turbine construction makes economic, environmental and public health sense, why would the Minister of Energy sign off on continuing to build industrial wind farms in my riding of Lambton–Kent–Middlesex?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock, please. Be seated, please. Thank you.

Minister?

Hon. Chris Ballard: Thanks for the opportunity to follow up on the North Kent wind farm. Again, I’m going to reiterate that our government takes these concerns regarding groundwater quality very seriously. The renewable energy approval process, in fact, requires these proponents to undertake extensive consultation with municipalities, indigenous communities and the public. Additionally, we have taken a very cautious, science-based approach when setting the standards for renewable energy projects in order to protect the health of the Ontario people.

Speaker, the proponent in this case has done extensive monitoring prior to construction, and we’re going to require them to continue to monitor the vibration data closely during construction and operation of the wind turbines. We require the company to conduct additional water quality assessments and we’re keeping an eye on this.

Minister Ballard with some not-Chatham-Kent water

 

*WCO note: one of the key parts of the decision on the Ostrander Point wind power project, where the approval was rescinded by the Environmental Review Tribunal, is that wind power is not a “necessity” and does not trump everything. The approvals of wind power projects must achieve balance between the development of renewable energy and preservation of the environment.

Wind turbines to blame for well water problems: hydrogeologist

November 12, 2017

Well water problems continue in Chatham-Kent with neither the wind power developer consortium, the municipality (which is part of the developer consortium), or the Ontario Ministry of the Environment responding to citizens’ concerns about altered well water. People have complained about Black Water coming from their wells, or so much sediment that the wells stop working entirely.

Here is an excerpt from the current edition of Ontario Farmer, which contains interviews with two experts on water wells.

Of concern to Wind Concerns Ontario is not only the lack of acknowledgement, explanation or effective resolution but also the fact that yet another wind power project on the same hydrogeology is being considered for approval. Ontario needs answers as more projects on fragile hydrogeology are pushed forward.

Water in Chatham-Kent wells is cloudy, even brown: not our fault says Samsung-Pattern [Photo: Sydenham Current]

Hydrologist blames turbines for well water issues

By Jeffrey Carter, ONTARIO FARMER

November 7

Ontario’s MInistry of the Environment and Climate Change should have already stopped the North Kent project in the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, according to hydrogeologist Bill Clarke.

It’s clear many wells have been compromised due to the vibrations created by wind turbine construction and by their operation, he said. Less clear is the level of risk for the people drinking the water. There are just too many unknowns to make a definitive statement on the matter.

Clarke, who is near retirement after a 40-year career in Ontario, has been working with Water Wells First citizens’ group that stands in opposition to wind farm development in the area, given the fragile nature of the aquifer.

“There are 13 families who are seeing a change in their water supply,” he said.

“Quantity is the issue now but not necessarily water quality. What’s happening is that particulate matter is getting loosened up at the base of the wells. In my opinion, there is well interference — there is no doubt.”

Clarke said well interference is something covered under the Ontario Water Resources Act and the situation should have raised a red flag for the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (#MOECC).

Proponents of the North Kent Wind project, consultants hired by the developers, have said that turbine construction has had no impact on the wells, despite the visual evidence that suggests otherwise. In the case of the complaints, which now number 14 according to Water Wells First, problems only arose after turbine pile-driving operations began.

Clarke said the consultants are correct in one respect: sediment shaken loose below the area where the turbines are being erected is not a concern. However, few people, experts included, have recognized the extreme delicate nature of this particular aquifer. The vibrations from pile-driving, and even from those created by the rotation of the huge turbine blades, are an issue at the well locations themselves. This accounts for particles from the underlying bedrock — Kettle [Point Black Shale] — being found in the contaminated wells.

The aquifer is very fragile

“The aquifer is very fragile and what we didn’t know before this all began is how fragile it is … They [the ministry] are being reluctant to get involved and, subsequently making a decision,” Clarke said.

Filtering systems have proven ineffective. Some have quickly clogged up within days or even hours of being put into operation. This may explain why the wind farm developers have offered to supply municipal and bottled water to affected well owners, though liability is still denied.

Also weighing in on the nature of the aquifer was Craig Stanton, executive director of the Ontario Groundwater Association. He said it’s long been known that when water is drawn too quickly from the area’s aquifer, cloudiness can become an issue.

“A lot of those wells are only good for a gallon or two per minute because if you were to pump harder, you would disturb that till with water pressure,” he said.

Kettle [Point Black Shale] is the bedrock underlying much of Southwestern Ontario. Across the northern part of Chatham-Kent, it’s located within 50 to 70 feet of the soil surface.

The “sweet water” lies in a layer of glacial till just above the bedrock. Particles of the bedrock are mixed into the aquifer layer.\

Clarke, while convinced that water wells have been compromised by the wind far development, said the level of risk from a human safety perspective, is unknown at this point.

In a well water evaluation conducted for Peter Hensel, just south of Wallaceburg*, uranium, barium and selenium were all flagged under the Ontario Water [Resources Act]. Unfortunately, due to test limitations, the level of uranium and selenium detected could not be determined. The level of barium did exceed the standard but only marginally.

Questions sent to the MOECC concerning the potential health threat from Hensel’s 2016 results were not answered. Hensel has not yet supplied the MOECC with his 2016 results although a copy was given to Ontario Farmer. The MOECC has also not answered why, in its own 2017 test of Hensel’s water, metals were not included in the evaluation.

The same questions sent to the MOECC were sent to Ontario’s environment minister Chris Ballard’s office. So far, there’s been no reply from the minister’s office.

They should have known …

According to Stainton and Clarke, an evaluation of metal content is a standard part of most water tests.

“Why would you test for just part of the Periodic Table, and who made the decision (at the MOECC) on what they would or wouldn’t test for?” Stainton asked. “It certainly seems to me suspect, and they should have known these things are in the black shale.”

Stainton and Clarke are both puzzled by the MOECC’s reluctance to investigate the situation further,. Especially since concerns were raised prior to the start of construction on the North Kent Wind project.

“I believe if they had been listening, they never would have allowed North Kent to move forward because they should have learned their lessons in Dover. There should have been so many red flags going up that they should have said no,” Stainton said.

… a spokesperson with the MOECC [told Ontario Farmer] that the Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health has determined there is no risk from the particulates in the water in the absence of bacterial contamination.

*The MOECC is now contemplating approval of yet another wind power project on the same hydrogeology, the Otter Creek wind power project. A citizens’ group has formed: the Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns.

 

Huron County wind turbine noise investigation launched

Home in Huron County: Finally, tracking wind turbine noise complaints — the government isn’t doing it [Photo Gary Moon]
November 11, 2017

Here is an excerpt from a report on the recent meeting in Clinton, announcing the launch of the Huron County public health investigation into wind turbine noise.

A few notes: as far as we are aware, the “study” is actually an “investigation” under the Health Protection and Prevention Act of Ontario, in which reports of adverse health effects may be reported and investigated. The only association with the University of Waterloo was the review by the ethics committee of that university — the university is not involved in any other phase of the project.

Wind Concerns Ontario had proposed to carry out Phase II of the study which would involve follow-up measurements in homes identified as problematic by the Health Unit, as part of a research study by a multi-disciplinary team. Although federal government funding was not achieved for that proposal, efforts to fund that initiative are ongoing.

This project is the first of its kind in Ontario; it was initiated based on reports of adverse health effects by residents of Huron County made to their health unit, and is supported by them.

For more information about the Huron County Health Unit project please visit the website here.

 

Huron County Health Unit launches wind farm study

By John Miner

ONTARIO FARMER November 7, 2017

Huron County’s on-again, off-again study on the health impact of wind farms is moving ahead with warnings from the researchers about what it can’t accomplish.

Even if the results in the end definitely show that wind farms are damaging the health of residents, the county’s health unit will not be able to order the turbines stopped, a public meeting was told.

“We do not have the authority to curtail or shut down wind turbines. If you are thinking of participating in the study in the hope that we will shut down the turbines, we want you to understand we cannot do that,” Dr. Erica Clark, an epidemiologist with the Huron County Health Unit, announced at the start of a public information session attended by about 60 people.

Courts have determined that Ontario health units do not have the legal ability to issue orders to protect public health in cases where the provincial government has given that responsibility to another body, Clark said.

In the case of wind farms, the government has given the power to regulate wind turbines to the Ministry of the Environment, not public health units, she said.

Dr. Maarten Bokhout: “If research indicates there are health issues, that can be raised with the Ontario government”

Dr. Maarten Bokhout, Acting Medical Officer of Health at the Huron County Health Unit, said while he cannot step on the Environment Ministry’s toes and he does not have the power to write orders against wind turbines, the results of the study will be published online, including interim reports.

The health unit’s one-year study, established in collaboration with the University of Waterloo and reviewed by the university’s ethics committee, will look at how people are annoyed by noise, vibration and light [shadow flicker] from wind farms.

The goal is to establish how many people are bothered by wind turbines in the county and determine if environmental conditions that make the noise, vibration light and sensations from wind turbines worse.

The study will rely on residents living within 10 km of a wind turbine who volunteer to keep a diary of their experience within their own home.

Participants are asked to record their observations at least once a week.

The researchers will not be making any actual sound or vibration measurements for the study.

Huron County is home to more than 300 industrial wind turbines and some of the largest wind farms in the province.

Some residents have blamed the turbines for a series of health problems, including headaces, nausea, dizziness and insomnia.

Clark, who is principal investigator on the study, said they want participation from both people who have been bothered by wind turbines and those who haven’t experienced any problems.

The 10-kilometre study zone around wind turbines means thousands of Huron County residents are eligible to sign up for the project, including all of the towns of Goderich and Exeter.

See the print edition of Ontario Farmer for a related story: Rural residents skeptical government would act on wind

No response from Wynne government to holiday weekend wind turbine noise reports

October 9, 2017

Thanksgiving: pumpkin martinis for city dwellers, screeching thumping noise for unwilling wind farm neighbours in the country. And no help from the MOECC. [Photo: allrecipes.com]

 

For many families in Ontario, Thanksgiving is a wonderful time, a time to get together over a lunch or dinner, get outside for walks in the still pleasant weather, and just generally enjoy a day, or weekend.

Unless you are forced to live inside a wind power plant as hundreds of Ontario residents are.

This Thanksgiving weekend saw high winds in a number of locations and Ontario’s wind turbines were churning away, producing power that wasn’t needed on a warm holiday weekend, meanwhile producing noise and vibration in nearby homes.

A Chatham-Kent area family spent a sleepless night on the holiday weekend Saturday and started calling the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Spills Action line at 5:30 a.m. to complain about the noise.

One Niagara area resident wrote an email about her family’s experiences on the holiday weekend.

We continue to be exposed daily to the well-known harmful emissions from the ill placement of Industrial Scale Wind Turbines to our home.  We cannot enjoy our property and home, outside or inside, due to the constant crashing, swooshing and thumping inside and outside of our home.  

The Industrial Wind Generators are whomping along with what I refer to as microbursts.  A constant swoosh can be heard inside and outside of our home with thump thump thumps.  I am highly agitated without sleep and being exposed to these emissions. This causes frustrations, alters moods and has stolen what I used to enjoy about living in my sanctuary, aka, as my HOME!!!!!!!!

Last night my bed was vibrating.  VIBRATING!  The vibrations could be felt throughout the home by all of us and felt in our bodies.

I am disrupted during sleep several times during the night.  Especially when you are woken by your bed vibrating and tinnitus so loud it is difficult to hear people and suppressing the high pitch screaming in your ears is impossible.  The more sleep disturbances, the more tired and the more difficult it is to handle the various symptoms forced onto us by this illegal legislation.  My head is under pressure with a headache requiring an aid to suppress the pain.   My skin is crawling.  Waves of vertigo coupled with nausea diminish my comfort and well-being.  Vertigo also challenges my stability while up and down in my daily routine.  As long as vertigo is present, my stability is at risk.  My ears are under pressure and that pressure extends behind my ears, below my ears and spreads down my throat while I am also trying to cope with tinnitus, a stiff neck and pressure on my chest. 

Our lives have been turned inside out … [this] is a complete violation of our rights as Canadians. 

 

 A family in Huron County also complained to the MOECC about their experiences in what was supposed to be a pleasant family weekend at the farm:

Some of us had very restless nights… One of our guests has had some very unsettling experiences today, October 8th.

Experienced SEVERE sudden onset of knife like ear pain while sitting against a south wall inside our home.  This happened in the morning (we were away for a couple of hours) and then later again when we arrived home – the same experiences.   This person has never felt anything like it before and has been quite literally shocked by what is happening and is very disturbed by it – and now is trying to rest due to a severe headache.  

I hate what this Wind Power Plant has done to our personal lives, our physical and mental health, etc.

Another Huron County resident, forced to live inside the K2 wind power plant, wrote this to the Spills line last Friday:

Today, I cannot enjoy my property and home, outside or inside, due to cyclical TONALITY. The wind is from the SW, WSW.  The wind speed at ground level is relatively low.  The TONALITY is rising and lowering in intensity, modulating up and down and it is SICKENING, like fingernails on a chalk board!  This causes frustrations, alters moods and has stolen what I used to enjoy about living in my home.  It is disruptive to our daily life and dangerous to our health.  

None of these complaints received immediate response.

All the MOECC is offering to do at present is more noise testing, using its flawed and limited measurement protocol.

The MOECC’s mandate is to protect the environment and human health.

Except when the people who really count are huge, multi-national wind power corporations.

“Gasping in despair”: Ontario’s rural communities, victims of Wynne government wind power cabal

In aiding wind power corporations, the Ontario government has essentially released wild dogs onto Ontario’s landscape without oversight, or means of bringing them to heel

“To despoil the environment. To slaughter endangered species. To make folks sick.” From the independent Wellington Times, a powerful overview of what the McGuinty-Wynne governments have done to Ontario while aiding huge corporations to build wind power plants

 

Ontario gothic

Posted: October 6, 2017 at 9:03 am   /   by   /   comments (4)

It begs the question: what was Kathleen Wynne and her government smoking when they let loose their own man-made monsters across rural Ontario—in the form of industrial wind developers and speculators?

Even if you buy the sentiment that their motivations were well-intentioned, the undeniable outcome of the Green Energy Act is that Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty have spawned armies of amoral monstrous corporate creatures and have let them loose to roam unfettered across the province. To wreak havoc in rural communities. To despoil the environment. To slaughter endangered species. To make folks sick.

Worse, our government has paved the way, clearing hurdles and slashing regulations to enable these creatures to prey upon vulnerable communities, natural habitats and endangered species. Now they have lost control of their grotesque creations. Even Kathleen Wynne must know how this story ends.

Near Chatham, folks believe the wind developer working nearby has poisoned their wells—allowing toxins into their drinking supply. They have done the testing. They have spoken out. They have protested. Marched on Queen’s Park. Kathleen Wynne has ignored them.

Wynne, her government and her supporters comfort themselves believing the scourge they have unleashed—though ugly and abusive— is a necessary evil. That the greater good is being served. They ignore the folks holding up jars of black liquid, pleading with the province to test their water, drawn from wells that have become undrinkable since the wind developer began driving piles into the bedrock to secure its massive wind turbines. Even Chatham- Kent’s mayor has demanded Kathleen Wynne intervene to protect these residents. It has made no difference.

Left without the protection of the province—without the safeguards that would protect them from any other development— these folks took matters into their own hands. In August, they began blockading the construction site— neighbours joining together to form a line against the threat to their drinking water.

On Monday, in a cruel blow, the developers— a Korean conglomerate and its American partner—won a court injunction barring any further blockades of the project. The judge said he wasn’t trying to muzzle opponents, but to “prohibit unlawful acts”.

People have to prove their water has been poisoned

In Ontario’s perverse hunger for industrial wind turbines, it turns out Chatham-Kent residents must first prove they have been poisoned by the developer, before they may seek justice. By then, of course, the damage will have been done. Recourse will expensive and, for most, unattainable.

Four years ago, the giant American wind developer Next Era sued Esther Wrightman for defamation. On her website she had altered the company’s logo to NextError and Next Terror. They wanted the logos removed or they would litigate the mother of two young children into oblivion. All these years later, the legal action is still pending. Wrightman wakes up every morning with the weight of this action still weighing on her head.

In Prince Edward County, a wind developer has been barred from constructing a nine-turbine project near Milford between May 1 and October 15. This was done expressly to protect the nesting grounds and habitat of the Blanding’s turtle, an endangered species in the province.

Nevertheless, crews have been busy these past few weeks clearing vegetation, preparing the site and delivering heavy equipment onto these protected lands. There are no consequences for ignoring the rules.

Families have left homes–no one will help

So, a developer ruins drinking water without penalty, another bullies a young mother into silence, and yet another crushes rules meant to save an endangered species. This is our Ontario. There are dozens more distressing stories just like these. Too many sad accounts of families forced to leave their homes because the noise and vibration from the massive machines proved intolerable.

No one is coming to help the folks in Chatham-Kent. No one from our government—those we entrust to protect us—is intervening between Next Era (market capitalization of $68 billion) and Esther Wrightman. And no one is coming to protect endangered species in South Marysburgh.

Wynne has lost control of her destructive and unscrupulous brutes. When the Liberal government eliminated the safeguards that once protected us from these threats, and cut municipalities and communities out of decision-making, they may have believed they were just streamlining processes. Instead, they unleashed wild dogs onto the Ontario landscape without oversight or the means to bring them back to heel.

Untethered by moral, ethical or community concerns, these corporate beasts consume and ravage everything they can get away with. Folks who have fought for years to protect the things our government was supposed to safeguard, have been left gasping in despair. Lacking legal remedies or protection, some have begun considering other means to protect their families, their communities and their land. If the government won’t protect them, they will do it themselves.

This is the horror Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty have wrought.

 

rick@wellingtontimes.ca

 

North Kent Wind proponents unmoved by families’ reports of well water contamination

“Not possible,” wind power developer says, that 12 wells failed simultaneously from pile-driving for wind turbine construction. Nope, it wasn’t us.

Water in Chatham-Kent wells is cloudy, even brown: not our fault says Samsung-Pattern [Photo: Sydenham Current]
October 4, 2017

Ontario Farmer

By Jeffrey Carter

The art of deflection may have risen to new heights during a community meeting organized by the proponents of the North Kent Wind project, on September 21 in Chatham-Kent.

Dr.* Storer Boone, a geotechnical engineer with Golder  Associates, said it is “not possible” that pile-driving has led to well water complaints, given the distances between turbine sites and nearby wells.

Jason Murchison, a hydrogeologist with the firm AECON, also said there is no reason for concern.

“We haven’t seen any impact in the wells we’ve investigated,” he said. “Nothing we’ve seen is any different from the baseline.”

Beth O’Brien, a spokesperson with Pattern Energy, said the majority shareholders of the project, Pattern and Samsung, have been delivering fresh water to some area residents who say their wells have been contaminated. However, that’s not an admission of liability.

“Were doing it to be good neighbours. Right now, if we hear a complaint, we supply them with fresh water.”

The companies, however, will not be laying lines to deliver municipal water to residents, O’Brien said.

According to Kevin Jakubec, spokesperson for the Water Wells First citizens’ group, 12 wells affecting 14 families, have been contaminated with Kettle Point Black Shale due to pile driving, so far. Well water in the area is drawn from about 50 to 70 feet below the soil surface.

The aquifer is located within a layer of glacial till about 50 to 70 feet below the soil surface and just above the bedrock.

While Boone dismissed the notion of vibration-related contamination, he said bedrock particles, many invisible to the human eye, are located in the till layer where residents draw their water.

It is those particles that are the source of the contamination, according to Jakubec and other members of Water Wells First. They said it showed up in the affected wells shortly after pile-driving began and is also associated with vibrations created as the huge [wind] turbine blades rotate.

Peter Hensel, a resident of the former Township of Dover, is among those who say they’ve been impacted.

During a taped conversation, Hensel said he had his well, from which he’s been drinking for seven decades, tested in 2012 before the wind farm in his area  was commissioned, and retested four years later.

“My uranium is up 500 times from what it was before. My arsenic is up 20 times from what it was before, as are many of the other heavy metals and elements I have in my water, some of which exceed the Ontario drinking water standards,” Hensel said.

“The only thing that’s happened within my general area, 1520 holes were punched through my aquifer. All of a sudden, my water is cloudy.”

Water Wells First has asked that the sediment in the water be tested but so far, neither the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change [or the developer] has complied. As a result, Water Wells First has paid for its own tests, which will soon be released.

Pattern and Samsung each have a 35 percent stake in the North Kent Wind project. Other partners include Walpole Island First Nation with a 15 percent stake and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent with a 15 percent stake through Entegrus Inc.

The Municipality, despite its investment, has called for the project’s halt.

Councillor Joe Faas, who attended the September 21 meeting, said “It’s apparent there’s groundwater concern,” and called for a thorough investigation to determine the cause.

Samples of contaminated well water are either cloudy or solid brown in colour and have a disagreeable odour and taste.

 

Editor’s note: the wind power developers filed for an injunction against Water Wells First and community members demonstrating against the project; they were successful, in a decision announced this week.

Wind Concerns Ontario is advising anyone near this power project experiencing problems or changes to their well water to contact the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Spills Action Line at 1-800-268-8080. Be sure to provide your address, distance from any turbine or turbine construction activity (though this may or may not be relevant), and what the changes are to your water. BE SURE TO GET AN INCIDENT REPORT NUMBER from the staff member you speak to.

*Mr. Boone has a PhD in engineering; he is not a medical doctor.

MOECC fails to act on wind turbine noise: CTV report

Turbines in K2 Wind power project were found to be out of compliance with Ontario regulations months ago. Since then, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has done nothing, says a report by CTV News London.

http://london.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=104066

September 13, 2017

Last spring, the MOECC determined that several industrial-scale wind turbines in the K2 Wind power development near Goderich, Ontario were operating out of compliance. This was the result of noise testing done by the Ministry, following numerous complaints by residents.

Former minister Glen Murray had promised action, saying there are rules to be followed, and his department would make sure they were.

Months later, nothing has been done. And residents continue to file reports of excessive noise and vibration daily.

In a report by Scott Miller of CTV London resident Mike Stachura says, “Nothing has changed…This is our home, we have to live here and we keep hoping the government will do something to help.”

Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson raised the issue in the Legislature Tuesday, asking new minister Chris Ballard when the Wynne government was going to take action to protect residents’ health. The minister responded with criticism of the Opposition, and reverted to the government’s green energy mantra.

 

MOECC: we’re not getting complaints

The MOECC: if they don’t hear from you, they can say there are no problems

 

Wind Concerns Ontario has been urging people experiencing noise, vibration and other effects from being exposed to wind turbine noise emissions to report these to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

We have just received a letter that underscores the need to continue reporting.

In a letter from the District Manager in Ottawa regarding a wind power project in Eastern Ontario, he writes “… additional complaints in the area were not received by the ministry.”

And, he said, the wind power developer did not hold Community Liaison Committee meetings further than the mandated four events because  of a “lack of participation by members of the public.”

While the latter statement is not accurate (the power developer said at its very first meeting that it never intended to hold more than four), the message is clear: no reports of excessive noise to the ministry means NO PROBLEM.

Again, if you have experience with excessive noise, sound pressure, vibration, shadow flicker, or altered well water, please call the MOECC Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060 or, if you have the District Office telephone number and you are calling during business hours, call that.

Be prepared to give your location, any observations about weather, wind speed if you have it (you can get this from your cell phone), and any other observations about what you are experiencing.

Be sure to get an Incident Report number and keep a log of your calls.

If you do nothing, you are one-hundred-percent guaranteed nothing will be done.

 

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.

MOECC district office readiness in question on wind turbine noise reports

September 4, 2017

3-MW wind turbine and house near Brinston, south of Ottawa. Resident told: you’re the only one complaining [Photo: Ray Pilon, Ottawa]

This past spring, Wind Concerns Ontario conducted an analysis of Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) response to reports of excessive noise and vibration(MOECC) and concluded the process for responding to citizen complaints is deeply flawed and largely ineffective. Global News ran a two-part investigative report on this information, which featured Ontario families who have been complaining about turbine noise for years, with no resolution.

More documents recently released under Freedom of Information (FOI) and correspondence with Ministry staff reveal problems with the Cornwall office that are further examples of a poor strategy for response. The documents and email also are a clear indication that the MOECC has completely abdicated its role as a regulator, and leaves resolution of any problems up to corporate wind power developers.

The Cornwall office up to now has only had to deal with any reports of excessive noise stemming from the 30-megawatt South Branch power project in and around Brinston, Ontario. Documents show that noise complaints were made even before the project began commercial operation in March, 2014.

No report number means no records?

Our initial request for information resulted in three records, which did not match Wind Concerns Ontario members’ experiences with this power project. It turned out, the Cornwall office had not been giving Incident Report numbers to people reporting, as is procedure, so their complaints were not recorded or tracked. On the advice of insider, we re-filed a request, this time asking for “investigative” reports and a handful — again, at odds with our members’ real-life experiences–was turned over.

In the records was an email from the Senior Environmental Officer to the power developer EDP Renewables, in which the MOECC staff member actually apologizes for passing along a complaint. [Emphasis ours]

Tuesday July 22, 2014

Hi Ken [Ken Little , EDPR project manager for South Branch]

Sorry about this

I received a noise complaint last week –not specific to any particular time last week, but a complaint of noise when the winds are from the west or south west. The resident lives [redacted] and is bothered by the noise from the turbine [redacted] The caller stated he cannot open his winds when the winds are from that particular direction due to the noise. …

Do you have any acoustic results for that specific turbine yet?

Excerpts from other complaints

May, 2014: There have been several nights when I am awakened with the window closed. I shudder to think of having the windows open all the time now …

March 20, 2014: I have had several sleepless nights when the wind is in the east direction as the sound waves of the turbines kept me awake from 12:30 a.m. or 2:30 a.m. until morning. [Redacted] Is there any way we can control the wind turbine motion for daytime hours only as [sic] they do not run from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.?

And, in one actual Incident Report:

June, 2014 IR 5006-9KYK5D: ..caller report last night was the 7th night since start-up of wind turbines as SBWF that she has been unable to sleep for the noise …Noise is described as drone of an airplane — very loud with windows closed.

MOECC noted: “acoustic monitoring conducted by tech support July 14-18 2014, report under review with noise engineer”

This summer, a Brinston area resident wrote to Minister Murray about the complete lack of response to her reports of excessive noise (she has had to sleep in her basement on occasion because of the noise and vibration), and an officer with the Cornwall Office telephoned her.

Here’s what she was told.

*Ministry staff were completely unprepared for wind turbine noise complaints.

*They still don’t really know what to do.

*They “lost” her records — even though she had so many reports that the MOECC actually installed equipment and did noise measurement for several days.

*Last, it was too bad they lost everything pertaining to her situation and reports but it didn’t really matter, she was told because “You’re the only one complaining.”

“Lost” records? Citizen complaints under the regulations “don’t matter”? And she was “the only one”, which is completely false?

Outrageous behavior for a regulator

Wind Concerns Ontario wrote a letter to new MOECC Minister Ballard, stating “This is outrageous treatment of a citizen of Ontario, who is simply following the process communicated to her by both the Government of Ontario and the wind power developer, who is mandated under its Renewable Energy Approval to act on and resolve any complaints of excessive noise.”

Moreover, WCO noted in its letter to the Minister, the Cornwall office is not ensuring compliance to conditions of the Renewable Energy Approval, specifically results of the compliance audit, which must be posted on the wind power project website, but are not. The response from the Cornwall Office (August 10, 2017):

Copies of the acoustic audits can be obtained from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.  I haven’t had a chance to check, but some reports have been included in the SBWF website– I assume you’ve already checked there.  Let me know if you are interested in pursuing an FOI request and I’ll direct you to the form and process.”

When WCO responded that the report is supposed to be public as per the protocol released by the MOECC in April 2017, the Senior Environmental Officer replies [emphasis ours] on August 10, 2017:

“Ah…I haven’t had a chance to review this new protocol in its entirety…there are some changes worth noting.  Thank you for bringing my attention to this.  I will be requiring the SBWF to post their reports on their website.  I’ll keep you apprised.

 

“This is completely inappropriate behaviour for a regulator,” WCO president Jane Wilson wrote to Minister Ballard.

“The people of this particular area are now facing approval of a 100-megawatt power project by the same developer, this one close to TWO communities,*  and they have no assurance whatsoever that the Cornwall District Office is prepared, or even competent, to respond effectively to noise complaints.

“On behalf of our members, we ask that you investigate this situation. Government staff should be prepared to fulfill the department’s mandate, and carry out their responsibilities to the people of Ontario.”

As of September 4, 2017, the mandated compliance report is still not on the South Branch Wind Farm website.

****** BULLETIN****

We have just been informed by the MOECC that the EDP documents have been reviewed and found to be incomplete and cannot be posted at this time.

This project has been in operation for three years.

 

See the letter to Minister Ballard here: August28LetterMinisterBallardCornwalDO

Read WCO’s report on noise response by the Ministry 2006-2014 here: NoiseResponseReport-FINAL-May9

*EDPR is about to file documents for Renewable Energy Approval for the 100-megawatt Nation Rise wind power project, which will be close to the communities of Finch, Berwick and Crysler