Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hydrologist blames turbines for well water issues
By Jeffrey Carter, ONTARIO FARMER
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.”
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.
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 Farmerfor a related story: Rural residents skeptical government would act on wind
As reports of contaminated well water in Chatham-Kent rise, the Ministry of the Environment is strangely silent. They can’t dodge this any longer
November 3, 2017
It must be getting harder and harder to work in Communications at the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) in Toronto: passing on all those media clips to management which then doesn’t respond, is not how they tell you things work in college or university.
Usually, when a company, or a government has a problem — especially with a public health issue — they meet it head on, and respond.
Not the MOECC.
A few months ago, we published a report that thousands of complaints of excessive noise and vibration from wind turbines were being ignored by the Ministry, with the staggering figure of actually NO RESPONSE for more than 50% of the citizen complaints, and a resolution rate of 1 %.
And over the summer and into the fall, the reports of problems with well water in Chatham-Kent continue to mount, as residents link the failed wells to wind turbine operation and construction.
“Black water” and heavy sediment is being found in 14 water wells near the North Kent wind power project, now under construction, which residents say is linked to vibration from pile-driving for the turbine foundations.
They’re not the only ones saying that: geoscientists and hydrologists are worried too, with one retired professional actually saying, he couldn’t believe they hadn’t stopped construction to get to the bottom of this issue.
The wind power developer claims no responsibility, relying on a consultants’ report which says well water interference is impossible.
Really, said another geoscientist. Speaking at a public meeting last week in Wallaceburg (where the province is thinking of approving another wind power project on the very same geology), Keith Benn said, If you have a model with predictions that are being countered by facts and evidence, it’s the model that might be wrong, not the facts.
This is serious business and, believe it or not, it is even worse than the situation described here.
Residents say there have been problems with well water since the first North Kent power project began but because most of the people having problems were leaseholders who had signed contracts with non-disclosure clauses about negative wind turbine effects, the well water problems were not public. So, a potential public health problem has gone unreported, essentially because the government gives a pass on most things to the “clients,” the wind power developers.
The media is all over this story, with reports every week; residents are writing to the Ministry, complaining to the so-called “Spills” line, and even writing MInister Chris Ballard. Nothing but platitudes; promises to act, promises of testing, even, but no action.
Chatham-Kent’s Council is concerned, and worried about what a crisis in the water supply might mean for residents and taxpayers if the municipality is forced to supply municipal water to farms and homes formerly supplied by their own wells.
We think the Ontario government, and specifically this Ministry whose mandate it is to protect the environment and people’s health, should act.
But the Ministry has been notably Missing in Action.
“Not possible,” wind power developer says, that 12 wells failed simultaneously from pile-driving for wind turbine construction. Nope, it wasn’t us.
October 4, 2017
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.
Problems with noise, vibration and disturbed wells causes concerns about how projects get approved, and whether the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is actually regulating anything
September 20, 2017
An article in the current edition of Ontario Farmer notes “growing concerns” about the impact of wind turbine construction activities on well water for residents in Chatham-Kent.
From the article by Jeffrey Carter:
The MP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington said provincial approval process for wind turbines in Ontario is “appalling”, especially in how it has impacted the northern part of his riding. Dave Van Kesteren said the federal approval process for pipelines is far more rigorous. “I don’t see that happening for wind farms,” Van Kesteren said. “Let’s go through a proper process and find out if there are concerns.”
Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope was asked about the interference with area water wells related to construction on the North Kent II wind power project, where as many as nine wells (it is now 12) wells are said to have been contaminated since pile-driving operations began.
Hope said the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has so far only reported six complaints that may be linked to the project. He also said the wells are not contaminated. Rather, the complaints relate to water turbidity and turbid water does not pose a health risk, he said.
Kevin Jakubec, spokesman for the Water Wells First group said there have been 11 complaints sent to the MOECC so far and others are expected. In three cases the water has been choked off and families are relying on temporary tanks and delivered water.
Earlier this week, power developer Samsung, while still refusing to accept responsibility for the water problems, said that the water it is shipping to families is for general use only but not for drinking.
Last week, the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, a coalition of several Ontario municipalities concerned about and affected by wind power operations, put out a news release demanding the MOECC take action.
“The Multi-municipal Wind Turbine Working Group requests the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change to respect the urgent need of the citizens of North Kent and the First Nation clans to see this issue remedied at once,” the Group stated in the news release, signed by Grey Highlands Deputy Mayor Stewart Halliday.
Yesterday, September 19, the MOECC responded to a complaint and was prepared to take water samples from a home for testing, but refused because Mr Jakubec of Water Wells First was present.
The MOECC’s mandate is “Leading to healthier communities and economic prosperity through the protection of Ontario’s air, land and water.”
Wind Concerns Ontario urges anyone with well water problems in Chatham-Kent to contact the Ministry via the local office or by calling the Spills Action line at 1-800-268-6060. Be sure to get an Incident Report number from the staff person, and keep a log of your calls and comments.
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.
An Open Letter to the newly appointed Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Chris Ballard. “You have work to do”
July 31, 2017
To the Honourable Chris Ballard
Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
Queen’s Park, Toronto
Welcome to your new position as Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.
Unfortunately, Minister Glen Murray has left you an extensive list of action items requiring your immediate follow-up. We highlight the key issues for you in the following list, related to Ontario’s energy policy and wind power projects.
White Pines – Withdraw the Renewable Energy Approval for this project as developer wpd cannot meet the terms of their contract. There are significant environmental concerns with this project that remain, even after a successful appeal by citizens before the Environmental Review Tribunal.
Amherst Island – Rescind Renewable Energy Approval for this project which is planned for the tiny island heritage community. Significant environmental risks are present including the serious impact on migrating birds that congregate in this area; Ontario does not need the power from this project.
Saugeen Shores – The single wind turbine at the Unifor educational facility has been fraught with problems and engendered hundreds of complaints about excessive noise. This turbine would not be allowed under present regulations. You can immediately address the failure to meet a June 30 deadline for submission of a compliance audit report.
K2 Wind – This is another wind power project, a large one, with many problems in its relatively short history. You can deliver on Minister Glen Murray’s mid-May commitment to Black family, and others, to provide a solution to wind turbines that MOECC testing indicated were not compliant with Ontario regulations to protect the environment and health.
Address Concerns Raised at Request of Minister Murray – Many people across Ontario took Minister Murray at his word when he said that there were no complaints reaching his office and that he would ensure his officials responded quickly to address the issues. They wrote to him and are still waiting for action on their issues.
Complaint Tracking Process – Complaint records released to WCO in response to an FOI request indicate that the MOECC does not respond to most complaints about wind turbine noise. These complaints should be a source of learning for the Ministry rather than being ignored as currently appears to be the case. A full revision of the process is needed to ensure that complaints are actually resolved with procedures that allow the Minister’s office to track resolution. MOECC records indicate little or no resolution of more than 3,100 formal Pollution Reports made by Ontario citizens between 2006 and 2014.
REA Approval Process – Increase setbacks from residences to reflect learning from MOECC complaint records that include staff reports that confirm that current regulations are not sufficient to protect health of residents living in wind projects. Last week, the Supreme Court set out standards for consultations with communities which are substantially more rigorous that the standards used for Ontario Renewable Energy Projects.
MOECC Noise Modeling Procedures – implement new noise modeling procedures based on MOECC internal testing that demonstrates wind turbines routinely exceed predicted levels.
Otter Creek – Retract decision to deem this application “complete” for the Renewable Energy Approval process. The proponent is unable to provide noise emission data for the turbine equipment proposed. The noise report submitted with the application for a REA is not grounded in fact but rather is estimates based estimates. Also, a full MOECC investigation of the impact on well water is required.
LRP I Contracts – suspend REA process for remaining LRP I projects until full review of requirements based on internal complaint records is completed.
Noise Compliance Audit Protocol – Expand the wind speeds covered under the protocol to include wind speeds below 4 metres/second which are the source of a substantial portion of complaints about excessive noise. Even MOECC testing shows these wind speeds are the source of noise levels exceeding 40 dB(A), which completely undercuts the credibility of this audit process.
REA Enforcement – REA terms make the project operator responsible for addressing the concerns raised in each complaint to ensure that it does not recur. The MOECC needs to follow up on all operating with projects to ensure compliance with these terms and take action where it is not occurring.
Shadow Flicker – The flickering shadows produced when a turbine is positioned between the rising or setting sun is a major irritant for residents. It is not considered in the REA approvals and is easy to address by turning off the turbine for the times when it is casting moving shadows on a house. In some projects, these changes have been implemented by the wind company but in other MOECC staff is telling residents no action is required, even though the REA requires the wind company to address complaints like these.
Infrasound – Expand MOECC testing to include the full range of noise emissions from wind turbines as independent testing shows the presence of elevated levels of infrasound in homes where residents have had to leave to protect their health.
Health Studies – The Ministry has been telling residents that its policy is based on the “best science” available since the first turbine projects were built. MOECC records clearly show that this is not correct, but the Ministry continues to be willfully blind to input from both residents and its own staff, quoting dated and selective literature reviews in a field where the science is rapidly evolving. The need for noise studies and other investigation has been highlighted in numerous reports but never undertaken. It is time for some serious field studies of the problems being caused by wind turbine projects in rural communities across Ontario. This was an information gap identified in 2010 by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Last, it is important that as you prepare for this major portfolio, you understand that industrial-scale wind power generation offers no significant benefit to the environment.
Wind power generation on this scale is a high-impact development for little benefit, if any. Two Auditors General for Ontario recommended that Ontario undertake a cost-benefit and/or impact analysis — that has never been done.
We ask you to approach this issue with honesty and honour, and respect the wishes of the citizens of rural Ontario.
Wind Concerns Ontario
Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups, individuals and families concerned about the impact of industrial-scale wind power development on Ontario’s economy, the natural environment, and human health.