MOECC misleading the public on wind turbine noise: municipal group

Residents’ health is being harmed, say municipal leaders. They’re not impressed with the MOECC’s lack of action

January 17, 2018

A group of municipal officials sent a formal letter to the supervisor of the Owen Sound office of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) following a presentation by the MOECC on the subject of wind turbine noise, noise reports, and adverse health effects.

While thanking manager Rick Chappell for his presentation, Stewart Halliday and Mark Davis, deputy mayors speaking on behalf of the group, said it was disappointing, and designed to mislead the public into thinking there are not problems with wind turbine noise in Ontario.

It’s time to stop denying the health effects, the Multi-Municipal group said, and get on to the business of alleviating the real suffering.

The letter follows.

M U L T I – M U N I C I P A L W I N D  T U R B I N E W O R K I N G  G R O U P

11 January, 2018

 

Andrew Barton, District Supervisor Andrew.Barton2@ontario.ca

Rick Chappell, District Manager Rick.Chappell@ontario.ca

Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change

101 –17th Street East

Owen Sound, Ontario N4K 0A5 Dear Mr. Barton and Mr. Chappell,

RE: Your presentation to our meeting of 14 December, 2017

 

Thank you for taking the time to make your presentation to the Multi-municipal Wind Turbine Working Group.

As councillors, we have had ongoing complaints from a significant number of residents living near wind turbines in our area who are suffering harm to their health. The video we presented to you documents the experience of some of those affected. It will also help you to understand the widespread anger and disillusionment with the MOECC’s failure to act on their behalf.

Much of the suffering could have been avoided had the local MOECC offices identified to their standards division that the public were adversely impacted (as confirmed by complaints and field monitoring) even when the turbines might have been compliant with the A weighted limits, since those limits were not appropriately corrected for the cyclical nature of the sound that is unmatched in nature, the tonality, the frequency spectrum, and the dominance of the sound above the local environment, and the other special characteristics of the wind turbine sound.

As recently revealed in FOI disclosure, there have been hundreds of complaints. Failure to resolve them, declining to shut down problematic arrays, and relying on proponent estimates of noise emissions only creates growing distrust of the MOECC.

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.

The urgent need for action is confirmed by the recent decision of Australia’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) that declared: “We accept that the evidence points to an association and a plausible pathway between WTN and adverse health effects (of a physical nature) mediated by annoyance, sleep disturbance and/or psychological distress”.

The Ministry’s commitment to the Statement of Environmental Values (SEV) under the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) (1994) stipulates that it will use “a precautionary, science-based approach in its decision-making to protect human health and the environment” and that “it will place priority on preventing pollution [in this case harmful noise emissions] . . . minimizing the creation of pollutants that can adversely affect the environment. . . . The Ministry will ensure that staff involved in decisions that might significantly affect the environment is aware of the Ministry’s Environmental Bill of Rights obligations”.

You can no longer justify continued inaction by falsely assuming that “components of wind turbine sound including infrasound and low-frequency sound have not been shown to present unique health risks to people living near wind turbines”.

Scientific, peer reviewed work carried out on infrasound and wind turbines by NASA under the direction of the highly respected Dr. Neil Kelley between 1981 and 1988 demonstrated the infrasound component of wind turbine emissions and its adverse effect on nearby residents. The World Health Organization has issued warnings that “the evidence on low frequency noise is sufficiently strong to warrant immediate concern”; “low-frequency noise . . . can disturb rest and sleep even at low sound pressure levels”; “other primary physiological effects can also be induced by noise during sleep, including increased blood pressure; increased heart rate; … vasoconstriction; …cardiac arrhythmia”.

Ambrose and Rand (2011, 2012), Basner et al. (2014), Cooper (2014), James (2013), and Nissenbaum (2012) all related measurements of wind turbine emissions (including infrasound) directly to diarized symptoms reported by those living nearby. Thorne’s study (2013), which took place over seven years, collected acoustic data at a number of homes so that cumulative exposures could be estimated. It concluded that health is “seriously and adversely affected”. Swinbanks paper presented in Glasgow in 2015 did not support your position. The MOECC failed to refer to  published peer reviewed documentation by Tachibana and Kuwano in the Noise Control Engineering Journal 62(6) 503-520 (2015): “Wind Turbine Noise (WTN) generally has dominant low frequencies and is easily transmitted into buildings, causing residents psycho-acoustical annoyance and sleep disturbance”.

We would be happy to provide you with these documents.

How did it get to this state of affairs that local residents have a greater understanding of the problems than the people whose salaries are paid by the taxpayers to protect us? We await some timely, responsible, diligent enforcement action from your office to alleviate the suffering of our residents.

Yours truly,

Stewart Halliday, Deputy Mayor Municipality of Grey Highlands, Chair

Mark Davis, Deputy Mayor Municipality of Arran-Elderslie, Vice-chair

MOECC managers Rick Chappell (4th from left), Andrew Barton at December 14th meeting: misleading the public [Photo: Wind Concerns Ontario]

Stephana Johnston “wind warrior” passes away

Stephana Johnston at a fund-raising supper for the Drennan case

January 11, 2018

It is with deep sadness that Wind Concerns Ontario announces the passing of one of its staunchest members and Board member, Stephana Johnston.

Stephana had lived for years among the wind turbines in the Cultus-Clear Creek-Frogmore wind power project, developed by AIM PowerGen, and was one of the forst people in Ontario to experience symptoms from exposure to the vibration and noise emissions.

She fought back.

She presented information countless times to municipal councils, attended appeals before the Environmental Review Tribunal, and drove long distances to communities across Ontario to support people in their fight against the unwanted power projects. She was featured in numerous news articles including one published by the Globe and Mail.

A committed environmentalist, she ran for office as an MP for the Green Party in Haldimand-Norfolk, promoting “healthy communities” and “renewable energy.”

In a recent message to Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson, Stephana wrote:

” … bless all the unsung wind warriors who are still strong in their resistance to IWTs and the harm they heap on those surrounded by them.”

 

As soon as we receive the formal notice from the family, we will publish it here.

 

Challenges ahead in 2018 for social, environmental justice in Ontario

House Finch on Amherst Island: industrial-scale wind power development can’t trump environmental protection

January 1, 2018

Best wishes to all for the year ahead.

The Ontario government is still processing five wind power contracts awarded under the 2016 Large Renewable Procurement I (LRP I), despite concerns about the environment and health and the fact that Ontario has a surplus of power. With thousands of noise complaints recorded with the government unresolved, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) refuses to acknowledge that it has a problem, and refuses to look for causes, relying instead on its clearly inadequate set of regulations.

One of our favourite quotes in 2017 came from a hydrogeologist who pointed out, referring to the problems with water wells in Chatham-Kent, if you have a model that says you’re not going to have problems, then you experience problems, then it’s the model that is wrong.

The fact that wind power development on the industrial or utility scale has many significant problems — energy poverty, environmental damage, adverse health effects, negative impact on rural communities — is now better understood by the people in Ontario, and the media. In 2017, two major networks, Global News and Radio-Canada, carried multi-part investigative reports this past year. The three-part Global News feature spurred questions in the Legislature and forced the then-minister to act on noise complaints for several Huron County families.

The Huron County public health follow-up of noise complaints was finally launched by the Health Unit there; other health units are watching attentively. We believe 2018 will be the year when the Government of Ontario is forced to live up to its mandate and take steps to protect the health of its residents.

And, the legal battles continue, with actions taking place both inside the legislated appeal process for wind power projects, and in the courts. There have been victories: there will be more.

In her Christmas Message this year, the Queen spoke of the importance of “home”:  ” … the idea of home reaches beyond a physical building, to a home town or city,” she said.

We in Ontario think of our “home” as being our communities, the landscape, the natural environment — indeed, the entire province and all the people in it. We will continue to fight for justice for the environment and for families this year.

 

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

Please join us: click on the Join/Donate button above.

MOECC: Christmas fun! (but not for you, North Kent)

December 23, 2017

No automatic alt text available.
Somebody at the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change headquarters on St Clair Avenue in downtown Toronto must have thought this was funny … and a way to use Christmas (because Christmas is there to be used for political purposes, isn’t it?) in the government’s “use-tap-water-not-bottles” campaign.
Employing social media Facebook and Twitter, the MOECC came out with a retro graphic asking people to leave Santa a glass of good old Ontario tap water this Christmas… it’s so good, it’s better than milk!
The campaign betrays a complete lack of awareness and/or sympathy for the plight of people in Chatham-Kent, whose water wells have been damaged, possibly by nearby wind turbine construction. Their homes, and the wind power project, are located on Kettle Point Black Shale and now, particles of that bedrock, which contains arsenic and other elements that should not be ingested, are present in their water. So much so, the water in some areas resembles chocolate milk, and the sludge is so thick that filtration systems have failed.
In response, the MOECC relies on the power developer; the power developer says its consultant assures them whatever happened to the wells isn’t their fault. Meanwhile, experts differ. If you have a model that predicts you won’t have problems,  but then you have problems, it is the model that is probably at fault, geologic scientist Keith Benn told a Wallaceburg audience at a public meeting recently.
So now, at Christmastime, at least 14 families cannot turn on THEIR taps for fresh, clean, Ontario water … but the government ministry in charge of protecting the environment and their health takes no action, and instead spends time thinking up Christmas jokes.
The government, and Minister Chris Ballard should be ashamed.

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.”

Residents, municipality fed up with MOECC on turbine noise complaints

“Years of testing, but never any results”

http://london.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1282268

December 12, 2017

A Kincardine area couple has filed hundreds of formal reports of excessive noise and vibration from nearby wind turbines with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), but has never had any resolution of the problem.

CTV’s Scott Miller interviewed the Walpole family and learned of their plight. The vibrations in the home are so strong, they said, light bulbs come loose in their sockets.

The Walpoles have filed more than 200 reports with the government and are told testing is ongoing, but somehow, the tests are never completed, and the problem continues.

The Municipality of Kincardine is frustrated by the MOECC’s apparent inaction and failure to resolve residents’ problems, says the Mayor in the CTV interview.

Last week, a representative of the MOECC appeared before Kincardine Council to answer questions on the situation. Rick Chappell, manager in the Owen Sound District Office, claimed there was a backlog in the Ministry’s processing of reports.

The wind power project in Kincardine has been operating for more than eight years.

Earlier this year, Wind Concerns Ontario received documents from the MOECC with records and staff notes on wind turbine noise reports to the Ministry, which showed that there was no response to more than half the complaints made and in fat, only one percent received a “priority response.” The Ministry was aware of hundreds of complaints even before the Green Energy Act was passed in 2009, which facilitated the development of even more utility-scale or industrial-scale wind power projects in Ontario.

At present, with thousands of unresolved reports of noise and vibration, and questions of interference with water supply, the MOECC is in the process of considering Renewable Energy Approvals for five more projects.

 

The recording of Mr Chappell’s appearance before Kincardine Council is now available here, after minute 11.

 

Wind farm opposition roars: Radio-Canada special report

December 6, 2017

Wind turbines: the opposition roars

Special Report by ICI Radio-Canada

Since 1995, more than 2,500 wind turbines have appeared in the Ontario landscape, but the green label attached to them is strongly criticized in some communities that are mobilizing to oppose the development of new projects. The problem is that these citizens do not always feel listened to by the public authorities.

Reportage and photos: Nicolas Pham
Text: Marine Lefevre
Infographics: Vincent Wallon

In 2014, the small community of Dutton-Dunwich, near London, rejected 84% of the proposed installation of 20 wind turbines on the territory of the municipality by a US multinational.

A plebiscite that does not prevent the provincial government from giving initial approval to Invenergy’s plan in 2017.

In Dutton-Dunwich, it’s incomprehension and anger.

“Everyone is furious. All my neighbors are really worried. I do not think we can compromise. I do not want these structures 200 m high next to me, “says Kristen Scheele, a resident who feels betrayed by the fact that the voice of the population is not respected.

“When, in the democratic process, the rights of a minority outweigh the rights of the majority? ” – Kirsten Scheele 

A feeling shared by the mayor of the city, who has been fighting the idea since the beginning.

“We do not want it. My fellow citizens are frustrated that they are not being listened to and are concerned that their concerns are not being addressed, “said Cameron McWilliam.

At a public information meeting organized by Invenergy in October 2017, members of the Dutton / Dunwich Opponents of Wind Turbines Group (DDOTW) say that wind turbines are bad for the environment, for the economy and for themselves.

What they absolutely want to avoid is that their fate is identical to that of the neighboring municipality of Lakeshore, where a park of 100 wind turbines was built in 2016 against the advice of the population and the municipal council.

“Council passed a motion saying we had our share of wind turbines and we did not want more,” said Mayor Tom Baine. The government’s response has been: they are coming! ” – Tom Baine, Lakeshore Mayor 

Why ignore the opinion of citizens and elected officials?

According to provincial legislation, the support of a community where wind turbines are built is desirable, but it is not essential.

“While community support can increase the chances of a project receiving a contract, there are many factors that affect its bid … Even though municipal and community support is an important factor in the evaluation. project proposals, it is not mandatory, “says the ministry by email.

A situation that many elected officials deplore, including Jeff Yurek, Conservative MP for Elgin-Middlesex-London.

“With the Green Energy Act, the government has removed the autonomy of the municipalities, so that it can decide where it [puts] these renewable energy projects. It does not matter if a city or village is a voluntary host or not. ” – Jeff Yurek, Conservative MP for Elgin-Middlesex-London 

While more than 2,500 wind turbines have been built in Ontario since 1995, the number of housing starts has accelerated since 2009, when the Green Energy Act came into force.

But why do whole communities refuse ecological and sustainable energy?

In spite of the positive label attached to this so-called green energy, it is criticized for several inconveniences.

“People who live near these huge machines have problems. They are noisy, blink and vibrate with a vibration you can feel from your home, “says Jane Wilson of Wind Concerns Ontario, a citizen organization that provides information on the potential impact of wind power generation on the environment, economy, human health and the natural environment.

“A majority of our residents are against, they do not see their interest. They make noise and pose health risks, “said Lakeshore Mayor Tom Baine.

The situation of contaminated artesian wells in the Chatham-Kent area is also bothering citizens.

“When that happens, you can not go back, you can not fix it,” says Wilson.

For Kristen Scheele of Dutton, well water in Chatham and thousands of noise complaints are all sources of concern and questioning.

It worries me a lot about whether they really protect the public interest – Kristen Scheele, a resident of Dutton-Dunwich.

According to reports obtained under the Access to Information Act, thousands of complaints about wind turbines have been filed with the Ministry of the Environment, which, for the time being, has made no followed.

“The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has clearly not fulfilled its mandate in dealing with complaints in this area,” said Dutton-Dunwich Mayor Cameron McWilliam.

PROBLEMS TAKEN SERIOUSLY?

In the wind sector, it is said that the concerns of residents are taken into consideration while complying with the requirements of the legislation, which was developed from scientific studies. A regulatory distance of 550 m is required for the installation of wind turbines near homes. Wind turbines must also comply with stringent sound standards.

“If, at a point in time, wind turbines exceed the noise threshold, the department has put in place a compliance mechanism to ensure that the impacts are mitigated,” says Brandy Giannetta, Regional Director of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

For its part, the Ministry of the Environment claims to take all complaints seriously. “Our priority is to protect public health and the environment by promoting and ensuring compliance with departmental rules and requirements,” reads an email.

The ministry ensures that systematic monitoring is done to ensure that wind farms comply with all provincial requirements.

“When a complaint is registered, the ministry responds by following up with the facility to make sure it complies with all provincial requirements,” says the email.

The ministry indicates that since 2006, 25 citizens are responsible for 60% of the complaints filed in this area with the Ministry. In this context, the department says it has conducted nearly 300 follow-up activities and continues to conduct proactive inspections of wind farm operations.

On the ground, energy companies do everything to reassure residents at public meetings such as those organized by Invenergy in Dutton-Dunwich.

“We understand that citizens have concerns or objections. But in the end, wind turbines are allowed in Ontario, period, “says James Murphy, vice president of business development of the company.

ARE THE STUDIES CONVINCING?

The energy companies are more confident in their efforts that several studies indicate that the noise and vibration of the turbines do not affect the health of residents and that their construction has no impact on the nearby artesian wells.

In 2014, a Health Canada study concludes that there is no evidence to establish a link between the noise exposure of wind turbines and the health problems reported by certain people living near these facilities.

“No statistically significant relationship was found between measured blood pressure, or resting heart rate, and noise exposure of wind turbines. ” – Health Canada study with 4000 hours of measurement of wind turbine noise data. 

But the agency also has several reservations. According to her, scientific data on the subject are limited. It also states that the findings of this study do not in themselves provide definitive answers and that they “should be considered in the context of a larger evidence base”.

The public also does not trust the mandatory environmental studies submitted by the energy companies for any new project.

“People who have money can buy the reports they need. ” – Jane Wilson, Wind Concerns Ontario 

Cameron McWilliam also questions the independence of this research.

“When you have the fox guarding the hen house, you expect that the studies will not be done by the opponent. It should be totally independent of the company and it did not happen. Because of wind farm liabilities, residents and our board are not ready to believe studies that say everything is fine, “he says.

But beyond research, living on a daily basis alongside wind turbines is difficult, say the inhabitants. Whether the vibrations felt by some or the discomfort caused by flashing air signal lights experienced by others, the effects of the presence of wind turbines are very real in the lives of these people.

It is in this context that the opposition is organized among citizens who see especially in this renewable energy the symbol of questioning their way of life in the countryside.

They are not ready to be imposed these huge machines. They do not want to be hijacked and most of all want to hear from a government that invests in green energy and from companies that claim to comply with government requirements.

 

Chatham-Kent: land of Black Water — special CBC report

Marc St-Pierre has not been drinking water from his well for four years since the water came out black. He is not alone: More than twenty families in his region have the same problem. The color is from black shale sediments suspended in the water. The residents of the Chatham-Kent say they are living in a nightmare.

Reportage and photos: Nicolas Pham
Text: Marine Lefevre
Ezine: Vincent Wallon

December 4, 2017

Report from Radio Canada Windsor by Nicolas Pham, Translated from original French

 

 

” We cannot do anything. We used water for everything. I cannot even take a bath. My world is completely upset because of that, “said Marilyn St-Pierre, a resident of Dover Centre. “Our water is finished and our life with it. I cannot even put on a sliding game for my kids and grandchildren, “says Christine Burke, who lives nearby.

Blame the wind turbines

In search of answers, residents’ eyes are quickly turning to wind farm projects being built near their homes. The problems, they say, began at the same time as the work in late 2012 and shortly after construction began on the East St. Clair wind farm at Dover Center.

“At the time, we did not realize what was happening. I did not want to believe that turbines could be involved. ” – Marc St-Pierre 

It is only when other neighbors come forward that he realizes the extent of the disaster. All live within 7.5 km, near the wind farm.

Twelve wind turbines stand around the property of Marc St-Pierre, the nearest is located 550 m from his house.

The problem resurfaced in May 2017, just weeks after work began on another wind farm project, North Kent One.

“They do not want to confess. But it’s odd: my well is lost, the neighboring well is lost, the well on the other concession is lost. All is lost since they started with North Wind, “says Lucy Defraeye, another affected resident.

An assumption that Keith Benn, a professional geologist who has worked for many years in the mining industry in Ontario, is happy to believe. According to him, the relationship between the installation of wind turbines and the contamination of wells is obvious.

“It’s circumstantial evidence, okay. But when you have a [pure] water source for years and [transforms] a few days after the construction of an industrial facility. You do not have to be a genius to see that there is a link of cause and effect, “he notes.

“A belief shared by Bill Clarke, a geoscientist licensed in Ontario for 43 years. “We’re making the connection between the construction and the wind farm because that’s the only thing that has changed around Chatham-Kent,” he says.

“There are residents here for generations. This is the first time anyone has noticed problems with water quality. ” – Bill Clarke, Geoscience 

 

An unaccountable company

Marc St-Pierre and seven of his neighbors look to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment in 2013 for answers. Water is declared fit for consumption by government inspectors.

They did tests to check for bacteria, but they never did any sediment sampling. ” – Marc St-Pierre 

Disillusioned and always struggling with black water, they simply decide to install filters, without ever receiving compensation.

The story is different for affected citizens around North Kent One Park. There, the presence of sediment is such that the wells are completely clogged.

Residents turn to Pattern Energy, the project’s owner, who claims it has nothing to do with the problem. According to the company’s engineers, it is impossible for turbine construction to cause such problems.

Gagan Chambal is Director of Works at Pattern Energy. He says that research done prior to the start of the project demonstrates that it is impossible for black shale particles, or anything else, to be transported from construction sites of turbines to wells hundreds of meters away. distance.

The study by the environmental consulting firm Golder Associates does not convince Keith Benn, mainly because it is based on models and not empirical field analyzes.

“A model proves nothing, it only predicts something. If he predicts something wrong, then this model is wrong. And it seems that’s the case here. ” – Keith Benn, geologist

While experts do not fully understand the causes of this situation, many point to the piling technique of wind turbine foundations that would damage the aquifer.

Troubleshooting tanks

The company is clearing customs, but a few weeks ago, it had delivered to several residents huge water tanks to replace the wells. According to Mr. Chambal, it is a simple step of good neighborliness.

“Under our license, we were only supposed to supply tanks only if it was determined that our construction had an impact on the quality of the water. But being good neighbors, we took proactive steps to help the community. Residents who complain about water quality have access to clean water even during the survey, “he says.

A temporary solution that is far from satisfying residents who are also worried about the safety of this water.

“As for me, it’s a cistern to give water to animals or to work in the fields. [It] is dirty inside. We cannot drink that water, wash our vegetables or cook, “says Lucy Defraeye.

And the arrival of winter does not announce anything to reassure them.

“My tank is outside. Winter is coming, I’m going to get cold water, “adds Calvin Simmons, frustrated.

But beyond the disadvantages, these residents feel abandoned, especially by the government.

A little government listening

Kevin Jakubek is a spokesperson for Water Wells First, a drinking water protection association that has brought together affected residents since 2013. He says the government is not doing its job and should investigate all those wells that have become unusable.

“We have been asking the Ministry of the Environment to investigate for more than a year and a half and they are not investigating. They come, they do some tests, but they refuse to take samples of the pollutant, “he says.

An impression that Marc St-Pierre himself had.

“A ministry inspector came to the house and I showed him the water that came from the well it was coming out black, I asked him to take this to examine it. He did not want to touch. He did not take it. They do not want to know what’s in the water, “he says.

For Mr. Jakubec, it’s just the story that repeats itself.

“People started to notice that their water was black. The government knew about it and they did absolutely nothing.They allowed the construction of another park in another county. And again, there are contaminated wells. ” – Kevin Jakubek, spokeswoman for First Water Wells 

Waiting for answers

Citizens are frustrated by their situation.

Even though the government claims that water is completely safe to drink once it has been filtered, experts say it contains heavy metals that are dangerous to health.

“I’ve already been through cancer and my biggest fear is to have another one. ” – Marilyn St-Pierre 

 

What Water Wells First is asking for is that the work be suspended for a long time to identify the source of the problem. Residents have filed complaints with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change that are currently under review.

For Bill Clarke, these steps will take time, a time during which residents will not be able to enjoy the source of drinking water that [they] enjoyed so far.

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