Ontario government approves new wind farm over “vulnerable aquifer”

May 8, 2018

The Ontario government announced late in the day last Friday it had given Renewable Energy Approval (REA) to the 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project, proposed by Portugal-based EDP Renewables.

The project is proposed for North Stormont, between Ottawa and Cornwall.

Many comments were received by the government during the comment period for the power project, many of which related to the unusual geology of the area.

In fact, according to a map of the project, almost every single wind turbine will be located over what is designated as “vulnerable aquifer.”

Ontario has already seen the results of wind turbine construction over fragile hydrogeology (though denied by the government), in Chatham-Kent where water wells have been disturbed such that at least 20 families do not now have water from their own wells. Several parties are now calling for a public health investigation.

Nation Rise map: the fine pink striped area is all “vulnerable”

In the case of the Nation Rise project, the ministry responded in the notice (emphasis is ours):

Impacts to groundwater
Concerns were raised that ground-borne vibration generated during construction (pile-driving) and operation of turbines (blade rotation) may impact well water quality. These concerns were based on allegations and complaints that ground-borne vibration generated during pile driving and blade rotation of wind turbines in another area of the province has impacted well water quality. Concerns were also raised regarding the potential for other project-related activities to contaminate groundwater.

Upon review of the groundwater aspects of the application, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has decided to include a series of conditions in the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) related to groundwater and ground-borne vibration monitoring. Among these conditions is the requirement for the proponent to: not commence pile driving or blasting activities until groundwater monitoring and ground-borne vibration monitoring plans are submitted to and approved by the MOECC; implement groundwater monitoring and ground-borne vibration monitoring during various project phases; and implement a well water complaint response plan/protocol and contingency plan, as necessary.

and

Geological/geotechnical concerns and impacts as a result of natural hazards
Concerns were received regarding the viability of installing the project within leda clays and the potential impacts of the project as a result of natural hazards, such as landslides and earthquakes. Concerns were also received regarding the potential for the project to facilitate the development of a landslide.

To ensure that the project will be safely constructed in this geological setting, as a condition of the REA the proponent will not be permitted to commence construction of turbine foundations and access roads until a detailed geotechnical report has been submitted to and approved in writing by the MOECC.

One would think that, given the seriousness of these concerns, and irreversibility of any damage to the aquifer, the Ministry would have required these reports before issuing an approval.

Residents have other concerns including effects of being exposed from the noise emissions from that many wind turbines which will also be among the most powerful in the province. That concern is magnified by the fact that this new wind power project did not have to abide by Ontario’s newest set of rules for wind power generators, but was able to opt for the less strict, older guidelines. It is possible that many turbines will be out of compliance with new regulations the minute they begin operation.

If the project goes ahead.

The community is now pondering next steps, which could include an appeal of the approval.

For more information, contact Concerned Citizens of North Stormont : http://concernedcitizensofnorthstormont.ca/

or Wind Concerns Ontario at contact@windconcernsontario.ca

#MOECC

Ontario Environment Minister served with summons on violation of the Environmental Protection Act

“We had no choice” : Wind Concerns Ontario on taking legal action regarding wind turbine noise reports

NEWS RELEASE

Citizens’ group charges Environment Minister with violation of Environmental Protection Act

May 1, 2018, Toronto, 10:00 EDT – The president of Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO), a volunteer-led coalition of 30 community groups and many Ontario families, has filed a private prosecution against the Honourable Chris Ballard, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), for violating Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act (EPA).

Private prosecutions are important tools in empowering private citizens to hold those persons in power to account.

The EPA prohibits anyone from permitting the “discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment, if the discharge causes or may cause an adverse effect.” Adverse effects listed in the EPA include “an adverse effect on the health of any person,” “harm or material discomfort to any person” and “loss of enjoyment of normal use of property.” (Section 14 subsections 1 and 2)

“We don’t take this step lightly,” says Jane Wilson, WCO President and a Registered Nurse, “but with the MOECC not responding to thousands of reports of excessive noise from wind turbines, which is affecting sleep and health for Ontario families, we had no choice. These are examples of adverse effects that Minister Ballard should not be permitting to continue.”

WCO recently received MOECC documents under a Freedom of Information request that showed thousands of unresolved reports of noise, many with staff notes about sleep disturbance and health impacts. Between 2006 and 2016, there were more than 4,500 recorded reports, 35% of which contained staff notes about adverse health effects; between 2015-2016, the MOECC response rate to the reports of excessive noise was less than 7%.

“Citizens report going without sleep for days, weeks, even months,” said Wilson. “Sleep disturbance is linked to other health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Mr. Ballard, as steward of environmental protection in Ontario, is responsible for allowing this environmental noise pollution to continue.”

On April 30, 2018, Mr. Ballard was served with a summons to appear before the court on May 17, 2018.

CONTACT: Jane Wilson  president@windconcernsontario.ca

www.windconcernsontario.ca

 

Excerpts from Ontario resident wind turbine noise reports:

“You have done nothing to help myself or my family. How many times [do we have to complain] before the MOECC will do something?”

“Another week has passed with no response from you. It has been terrible here off and on the past week …continue to be unable to get a good night’s sleep.”

“When will you reopen our file and help us?”

“We just want to sleep…”

“After a week of east wind and no sleep in our house this has become intolerable … it is up to you to address this”

 

Read Wind Concerns Ontario’s reports on the MOECC pollution Incident Reports here.

The 2017 report on noise complaints 2006-2014 NoiseResponseReport-FINAL-May1

The 2018 report on noise complaints 2015-2016 Second Report Noise Complaints February 2018-FINAL

 

Legal foundation for a private prosecution

Ontario Private Prosecution

 

#MOECC

Information event details concerns about stray voltage and wind turbines

April 24, 2018

Report from a member of the organizing committee for a recent public information event

Saturday afternoon over ninety members of the public attended an electrifying community information session on “Understanding Stray Voltage and Industrial Wind Turbines” held at Covenant Christian School in Smithville.

The keynote speaker was Mr. David Stetzer, an electrician with 30 years of experience. Mr. Stetzer specializes in power control in industry, municipalities, and motor control centres. For the last decade, he has focused his attention on power quality analysis and troubleshooting. He is a senior member of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers), has qualified as an expert witness in litigation suits in ground currents and power quality, is co-author of peer-reviewed papers in journals, as well as being a producer of the documentary ‘Beyond Coincidence: The Perils of Electrical Pollution’.

Stetzer attributes much of the dirty electricity — frequently referred to as “stray voltage” that exists in Ontario — to the overloading of the single return wire in our power supply. Eighty percent of the power that returns to the substation is “dumped” onto the ground. We do not see, hear, feel, taste or smell electromagnetic energy. Yet the proliferation of electrical pollution creates problems for people who have a biological reaction to the poor power quality that is generated by industrial wind turbines, power transmission lines and distribution lines.

Any power generator in Ontario has an obligation to transmit “clean” power. …

Read the whole report by Catherine Mitchell, here: Report – Stray Voltage Event – April 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

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

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

 

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.

MOECC reps stun audience with views on wind turbine noise

Municipal officials told wind turbine noise no worse than barking dogs, no action planned

MOECC officials actually compared noise emissions from large-scale wind power generators, including harmful low-frequency noise, to barking dogs. A failure to regulate

December 16, 2017

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) position on wind turbine noise is that they don’t pose a health problem.

That’s the conclusion from remarks made by Owen Sound District Manager Rick Chappell and District Supervisor Andrew Barton, speaking to the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group in Chesley this past week.

The two MOECC managers said repeatedly indicated that they are just messengers: the MOECC’s Technical Assessment and Standards Branch is responsible for establishing the Ministry’s position on wind turbine noise and providing “advice” to local District staff when they respond to queries.

Bottom line: we don’t believe you

In their presentation and responding to questions from municipal officials in the Multi-Municipal working group, the MOECC officials outlined key elements of the MOECC position on wind turbine noise.

  1. They agree that wind turbines can cause annoyance. Contrary to medical literature, however, they do not use “annoyance” as a medical term denoting stress or distress. They actually compared annoyance caused by barking dogs to residents’ reactions to wind turbine noise. *
  2. The MOECC managers insisted the literature did not demonstrate any direct health effects from wind turbine noise, when asked about health studies and reviews on turbine noise. Despite evidence of indirect health effects raised, the staff comments repeatedly indicate the MOECC is narrowly focused on direct health effects.
  3. The MOECC takes a one-sided view of the Health Canada study which according to these officials only found that there was no link between wind turbine noise and health impacts. This statement ignores the second half of the findings which confirmed a link between reported health effects experienced over 12 months and wind turbine noise. They also do not seem to be aware of the findings released to WCO which indicated that annoyance starts at 35 dBA, not the 40 dBA used in Ontario.
  4. Their view of the Council of Canadian Academies report was similarly selective. They downplayed the key finding of this review which was that there is sufficient evidence to establish a causal relationship between exposure to wind turbine noise and annoyance in the medical sense. Also not mentioned were the issues highlighted about measurements of wind turbine noise using A-weighted tools which fail to capture low frequency components of wind turbine noise. The Council noted that averaging measurements over time does not convey changes in sound pressure levels occurring in short periods.
  5. In terms of low frequency noise and infrasound, the MOECC representatives relied on a statement from Health Canada that levels of these emissions were found to be below levels that would expect to result in harm to human health. When questioned, however, they were not able to quantify what the MOECC considered “safe” levels of infrasound, or when the MOECC would be acquiring equipment that is capable of measuring emissions at frequencies below 20 Hz.
  6. Members of the Working Group countered by referring to research that conflicted with the MOECC statements. The response from Chappell and Barton was that the Technical Assessment and Standards Development branch reviews emerging research, but limits its assessments to peer-reviewed articles in “respected” journals.
  7. In the MOECC presentation, staff said the 2016 Glasgow International Wind Turbine Noise Conference supported their position on infrasound and health effects. This prompted the Technical Advisor to the group — who actually attended the conference — to inform them that he sent 14 papers presented at this conference to the Ministry, because the conclusions do not support the Ministry’s position.
  8. Chappell and Barton did not seem to be aware of the work of Dr. Neil Kelly at NASA in the mid-1970s on low frequency noise and infrasound from wind turbines, even though it was published in respected peer-reviewed journals and presented at U.S. wind industry conferences.
  9. Residents affected by wind turbine noise were present in the audience. One from Grey Highlands asked when the Ministry was going to respond to the noise assessments at his home that had been provided to the Ministry. No response timeline was provided. Another asked for the position of the MOECC on people who had to move from their homes because of the impact of the noise from nearby wind turbines. The response was that the MOECC has no position except to repeat that there is no direct link between wind turbine noise and health issues.

Members of the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group did not appear to be satisfied with the answers provided by the Ministry officials; several follow-up activities are planned.

MOECC failing as regulator: WCO

Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson says these remarks are either a sign of “stunning ignorance, or a calculated policy by the MOECC to ignore and even demean what is happening to people in Ontario.”

Wilson, a Registered Nurse, says there is a great deal of evidence in the health literature about the range of noise emissions produced by large-scale wind turbines, and growing international concern about adverse health effects.

“Of course there are health effects,” Wilson said. “That’s why we have setbacks between turbines and homes in the first place. This Ministry refuses to acknowledge it has a problem and take appropriate action — it is failing the people of Ontario as a regulator.”

MOECC managers Rick Chappell (4th from left), Andrew Barton at December 14th meeting: their answers didn’t satisfy the committee [Photo: Wind Concerns Ontario]

*CanWEA in a 2011 news release acknowledged that a percentage of people can be annoyed by wind turbines, and the trade association said that when annoyance has a significant impact on quality of life, “it is important that they consult their doctor. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also describes noise-induced annoyance in legislation as a situation that “can have major consequences, primarily to one’s health.”

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.