New government, same old decisions

Citizen efforts to protect the environment rebuffed in favour of big business: shouldn’t it be the other way around, writer asks. [Photo: Dorothea Larsen]
March10, 2019

The Ontario government under Premier Doug Ford is beginning to “wear” the repercussions from decisions on development by the Environmental Review Tribunal, says a writer with Ontario Farmer.

In his “Eastern Limits” column in the weekly farm publication, writer Tom Van Dusen says “For the second time is only a few weeks, an Eastern Ontario community action group has been rebuffed by the provincial Environmental Review Tribunal in its efforts to preserve pristine farmland and a rural quality of life.”

Van Dusen refers to the recent decision to allow approval of a major landfill site that has been inactive since its first approval 20 years ago, and to the decision to dismiss the appeal of the Nation Rise wind power project, despite multiple environmental concerns.

“It’s enough to make you think that the Tribunal designated under the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks tends to favour big business over preservation of natural landscape.

“Shouldn’t it be the other way around?”

Van Dusen cites the fact that the approval for Nation Rise, a 100-megawatt wind power project in North Stormont, came days before the writ period in the last election, and more crucial, the final clearance was granted by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO)  June 13, a week after the election which saw the LIberals turfed out of government. While this decision came during the “caretaker” period and should probably not have been made, it was the critical factor that made the Nation Rise contract with government “iron clad” — the Ford government now claims it cannot get out of the contract.

That date, by the way, was only obtained by citizens under a Freedom of Information request — the IESO would not release the information voluntarily.

“That seems completely unethical,” Raymond Grady of North Stormont told writer Van Dusen, who concludes, “ethics in politics tend to be loosely and conveniently interpreted.”

Did the Ford government renege on power project promises?

Save The Nation protester: Ford government promise not kept?

Residents ‘blindsided’ as licence granted for ‘cancelled’ power project

March 3, 2019

In July 2018, citizens of rural and small-town Ontario communities breathed a sigh of relief when energy minister Greg Rickford announced that the Ford government was cancelling more than 700 renewable energy projects. Many had had concerns about the impacts of these projects on the environment, on their own lives, and about the restrictive approval process for the projects which offered no opportunity for input from citizens or municipalities.

The projects were gone.

Or, so they thought.

Now, two renewable energy projects appear not only not to have been cancelled at all, but are proceeding full steam ahead.

CBC News reports that a solar project near Port Hope is actually now under construction despite local residents believing it had been “cancelled.” The project is located on prime agricultural land and will need hundreds of trees to be removed, despite being inside the protected Oak Ridges Moraine greenbelt area.

And, community members in The Nation, just east of Ottawa, were shocked to learn that a wind power project, “Eastern Fields” received a licence from the Ontario Energy Board to generate electricity a few weeks ago, in December. The licence is good for 20 years, and doesn’t expire until 2038.

In an email to both Wind Concerns Ontario and community group Save The Nation/Sauvons La Nation from Environment, Conservation and Parks staffer Sarah Raetsen confirms that the Eastern Fields project is under “technical review” towards achieving a Renewable Energy Approval.

“We were shocked to find out about this licence,” says Julie Leroux, spokesperson for Save The Nation. “We’re also extremely disappointed that the Ford government does not seem to follow through with its announcement.”

Save The Nation sent an urgent letter to Minister Rickford on Friday demanding clarification.

“The approval process for ‘green energy’ projects is very limited in terms of community input and favours the corporate power developers,” says Jane Wilson, president, Wind Concerns Ontario. “Now, by believing what the Ford government promised, all these citizens have lost seven very valuable months they could have been working to gather important data on environmental impacts in case they want to appeal a formal approval. They have been blindsided.”

Wind Concerns Ontario has government records of thousands of reports of excessive noise and vibration from wind turbines, Wilson says, which remain unresolved to this day, despite the change in government.

 

CONTACT

Jane Wilson: president@windconcernsontario.ca

Julie Leroux Save The Nation: sauvonslanation@xplornet.com

 

News Release from Save The Nation follows:

For immediate release

March 3, 2019

 How Can a Cancelled Wind Turbine Project Receive a Licence to Produce Electricity?

ST-BERNARDIN – Save The Nation is seeking answers from the Ontario Minister of Energy, Greg Rickford, regarding the issuance of an Electricity Generation Licence to the ‘cancelled’ Eastern Fields industrial wind turbine project. The Ontario Energy Board issued the licence on December 6, 2018, even though Minister Rickford had announced the cancellation of Eastern Fields project on July 13, 2018.

“We were shocked to find out about this licence. We do not understand why or how a cancelled project can be issued a licence to produce electricity for a period of 20 years – until 2038. We’re also extremely disappointed that the Ford government does not seem to follow through with its announcement,” says Julie Leroux, spokesperson for Save The Nation.

Eastern Fields was one of 758 projects identified by Minister Rickford for wind-down on July 13, 2018, following a promise to cancel unnecessary and wasteful energy projects in order to cut hydro rates. “We’re asking Minister Rickford to confirm that this promise has been kept and that Eastern Fields Wind Farm LP is a dead project with no chance of ever moving forward. We also ask him to revoke the useless Electricity Generation Licence EG-2018-0213” adds Leroux.

The Electricity Generation Licence was issued on December 6, 2018. Incidentally, on that same day, the Ontario Government adopted the Green Energy Repeal Act, which will affect other acts and regulations, namely the Environmental Protection Act, the Renewable Energy Approvals Regulation 359/09 and the Planning Act when fully enacted.

Save The Nation is a grass-root movement that has been opposing the Eastern Fields industrial wind turbine project near St-Bernardin in The Nation Municipality and Champlain Township since it was publicly announced in June 2015. Save The Nation is not against green initiatives, but is fiercely opposed to the process that was used for the approval of renewable energy projects in Ontario under the Green Energy Act.

– 30 –

 

Link to July 13, 2018, Ontario Media Release: https://news.ontario.ca/mndmf/en/2018/07/ontario-to-cancel-energy-contracts-to-bring-hydro-bills-down.html

 

Information:

Julie Leroux

Save The Nation Society

613-678-6471

sauvonslanation@xplornet.com

www.sauvonslanation.ca

Letter to Minister Rickford: Honorable Greg Rickford-March1-2019

Nation Rise wind power project not in the “public interest” –petition launched

Rushed approval, outdated noise assessment and significant environmental risks to power project spur community to file a petition

February 8, 2019

The community group Concerned Citizens of North Stormont have launched a petition for their MPP Jim McDonell to take to the Ontario Legislature within days. The petition says the 100-megawatt wind power project is not “in the public interest” and its Renewable Energy Approval should be revoked.

The community group has also filed a direct appeal with the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Why?

Nation Rise means more cost added everyone’s electricity bills.
It was approved using outdated and flawed noise assessment protocols.
It will expose hundreds of people to wind turbine noise emissions.
There are very serious environmental concerns with the project.
And,
its approval was rushed through before the election by the Wynne government, without adequate assessments.
Parker Gallant says the power from this project will be like a “fly on the flank of an elephant” — we don’t need to pay the $450 million for this power plant. Profits from the wind power project will go to interests in Portugal, the U.S., and China.
Let’s stop this thing.
Please sign the attached petition and mail it to their MPP Jim McDonell, as soon as you can. Today, if possible.
Let’s have no more personal and environmental damage done to us all by industrial wind turbines.
Thank you
Jane Wilson
President
WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO
P.S. If you can help further by printing this off or emailing it to your network of friends and family, please do.

Wind company ‘gag’ orders hide the truth

 

In a recent article by the Anderson County Review, the conclusion on the non-disclosure clauses or “gag” clauses in wind turbine leases (property owners lease their land to wind power developers for terms of 20 years and more) was that the wind power corporations want silence from the leaseholders because, as the writer says, “If you control the smoke, there is no evidence of a fire.”

Leaseholders or “lessors” as they are called in the contracts, are prevented from revealing or discussing anything to do with the turbine operations on their land for the term of the lease, and that includes noise, flashing lights, the results of any noise testing — everything.

In Ontario, this came up a few years ago over the question of the disturbed water wells in North Kent. The landowners with turbines were probably affected too if vibrations from construction and operation was causing sediment to enter and clog wells, but they can’t say anything about it. The new leader of Water Wells First said last week she “knows there are more wells out there” beyond the 20 or so that are so badly affected they cannot be used.

The question arose, is this an obstacle to public health surveillance? The answer was that individual citizens would have to spend money taking the multi-billion-dollar wind corporations to court to establish that.

Here is the Anderson County Review article:

The wind may blow free, but the use of gag orders in lease agreements and easements that force property owners to keep their mouths shut about the realities they endure as sites for those giant wind turbines makes information flow anything but.

That’s critical in this fat cat, tax-credit fueled industry which, more and more, depends on secrecy as much as it does a steady breeze. Wind farm developers like to point to thousands of lease holders at projects across the country and how few complaints they have about their gigantic neighbors, but they never mention the source of all that satisfaction – prosecution and financial ruination due to gag clauses in those signed leases and easement agreements. Indeed, where you can keep control of the smoke, there’s no evidence of a fire.
Keeping tight control of information and particularly criticism from eye-witnesses is allowing wind companies like those moving against targets in Linn and Neosho counties and other rural communities in Kansas to go about their business without interference from public regulatory authorities and other outsiders who want to chronicle precisely how much damage is being done by wind turbines. Silenced victims suffer for their property, their environment and their own health. But the gag orders that bind those lease holders are clear: Speak up, particularly to the media, and not only will your lease payments disappear but we’ll sue you – and we’ll still have a 55-story tall tower on your land which you can’t stop us from operating.
Perhaps the most damning casualty of this secrecy is in the kibosh it has put to extended research on Wind Turbine Syndrome, a health condition identified among many people living near wind turbines and believed to be caused by light flicker from the moving blades, fluctuations in air pressure as those blades move past their base tower and low-frequency noise they produce. In her book “Wind Turbine Syndrome: A report on a natural experiment,” Dr. Nina Pierpont conducted extensive clinical interviews with 10 families living near wind farm turbines both in the U.S. and abroad. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine-trained pediatrician discovered a striking uniformity of complaints from these families – migraine, motion sickness, vertigo, noise and visual and gastrointestinal sensitivity, and anxiety. Between the time of her interviews and the final publication of the book, nine of the ten families had fled their homes for residences away from wind farms, and a 10th who couldn’t afford to move did extensive renovations to their house in an attempt to defeat the pressure and frequency issues, and had reduced air flow inside the home to the point it was now hard to heat.
A full-on epidemiological study however will probably never be done – one that correlates the common symptoms Pierpont identified and possible causes like setback from a turbine and what aspects of exposure to measure – because the bulk of the study subjects are all gagged.
“Better Plan Wisconsin” is a wind farm opposition organization in the Badger State which got hold of a wind farm lease from a farmer who’d had enough. The story is nearly identical state to state and lease to lease. Landowners who sign leases or easements can’t discuss noise, vibration, shadow flicker or any disruptions the turbines might cause to their properties. The gag orders stop all discussion regarding the terms of the lease, or the construction or operation of the turbines, as well as speaking to reporters or to anyone in the media or issuing statements or press releases without the written permission of the wind company. Then there’s this jewel:
“This section shall survive the termination of expiration of this lease,” meaning the gag order survives forever, even after the lease is terminated. Under the threat of litigation, you are gagged for life.
Still, impoverished county leaders and farmers embrace the promise of lease payments and payments in lieu of taxes (Kansas wind farms are exempt from property taxes, unlike other power plants), ignoring the deafening silence coming from those signed to the lease agreements.
Yes, silence is golden. That’s just how the wind companies want it.
– Dane Hicks is publisher of The Anderson County Review in Garnett, Kan.

North Stormont citizen appeal dismissed

Courage undiminished in community resolute to protect the environment and health

New information on environmental and health effects of wind turbines was presented in the appeal. It wasn’t enough in a system stacked in favour of the developers. [Photo: Wind Concerns Ontario]
January 6, 2018

Although the people of North Stormont, just south of Ottawa, introduced many new concerns about wind turbine construction and operation –including evidence that has never before been presented at an appeal in Ontario –it wasn’t enough to meet the strategically constructed impossible test set up by the Green Energy Act.

The onus is on a community to prove that the power project “will cause” serious harm to human health and “will cause serious and irreversible harm” to the environment.

Never mind that the huge turbines will be built on what the province has designated a “highly vulnerable aquifer”.

Never mind that some of the turbines could be constructed and operate on unstable soil conditions including Leda or “quick” clay, in an earthquake zone. No seismic evaluations were ordered, or done.

Never mind the fact that two engineers testified about wind turbine failures in Ontario and the dangers of blade failure and ice throw. (The Tribunal’s answer to that was, OK, sure, maybe, but nobody has died yet, have they?)

Never mind that there are records of thousands of reports of excessive noise, sleep disturbance and adverse health effects filed with the Ontario government.

It is a credit to the people of rural Ontario that in the face of moneyed interests, a public service that is still entrenched in the previous Liberal government’s unfounded green energy ideology, and a set-up system stacked against people and communities (to say nothing of the environment), that they continue to fight.

The people of North Kent still want action on the damage done to their water wells; the people of Prince Edward County are still fighting to have an unnecessary and now cancelled wind power project actually removed; the people of Ontario living with turbines continue to file reports of excessive noise, despite government inaction.

And the people of North Stormont have vowed to fight on.

“We couldn’t just sit back and let the project go up without fighting it,” community group leader Margaret Benke told the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder in an interview. “We have options open to us, and that is the direction we’ll be going in now.”

Read the decision by the Environmental Review Tribunal here: http://elto.gov.on.ca/tribunals/ert/decisions-orders/  Case 018-028

Please help.

To contribute to the legal fight in North Stormont use GoFundMe here: https://ca.gofundme.com/stop-wind-turbines-in-northstormont

Or send a cheque to the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont in care of Wind Concerns Ontario, PO Box 509 250 Wellington Main Street, Wellington ON  K0K 3L0.

 

Environment ministry lawyer avoids reality in Tribunal arguments

You expect lawyers to defend their clients. But shouldn’t a government lawyer always act in the public interest?

November 29, 2018

Last Friday in Toronto, the appeal against the Renewable Energy Approval for the “Nation Rise” wind power project—an appeal launched and funded by the community—heard closing arguments from the citizens’ group appealing the approval, the multi-billion-dollar Portuguese wind power developer, and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

The latter was represented by Ottawa-based lawyer Paul McCulloch. His job is to defend the Wynne government’s hasty approval of the 100-megawatt power project, south of Ottawa.

Question: Should a government lawyer not be also responsible for defending the residents of North Stormont from the adverse effects caused by a wind power project?

What happened though, was that Mr. McCulloch made astonishing comments in response to evidence brought forward on the risk to human health.

Mr. McCulloch alleged that “no” wind power project has ever been tested and found out of compliance in Ontario. This is patently false. To name just one example, the Unifor turbine in Port Elgin has resulted in hundreds of noise reports, it was found out of compliance and is now under a power reduction order and noise abatement plan (though noise complaints have not stopped).

Similarly, there were many noise reports for the Melancthon wind power project between 2006 and 2009, that the environment ministry did inspections and testing and concluded “the sound discharged into the natural environment from the wind turbines would cause an adverse effect.” * The company was ordered to reduce noise levels, and remodel several of the turbines; when that was not entirely successful, the ministry further worked with the operator to employ a noise abatement plan and in 2011, implemented a “noise reduced operating plan” according to a ministry report obtained under Freedom of Information request by Wind Concerns Ontario.

So, yes, turbines have been found out of compliance and abatement orders issued; the reality is, many others are caught up in a seemingly endless round of audible noise testing through a flawed protocol.

Mr. McCulloch also dismissed government records of complaints from residents presented by Wind Concerns Ontario as evidence of problems and especially adverse effects from wind turbine emissions, saying no conclusions can be drawn from self-reported complaints.  However, “assessment” of noise/adverse effects complaints has not been a requirement of the process, so there would not be such records of medical opinions. And the ministry doesn’t follow up on reports of adverse effects, or even refer them to the Ministry of Health. The MOECC (now MECP) also does not collect information on academic credentials of the people as part of the complaint tracking process. The reality is, trained healthcare and medical professionals are among those who have filed complaints about the impact of wind turbines on their health, and others have had their assessments confirmed by healthcare professionals.

Government lawyer Mr. McCulloch, however, essentially stated that unless people registering complaints with the MECP provide medical proof, their reports are of no consequence. Does this mean that the thousands of provincial records of noise complaints are meaningless? That adverse health effects being reported to government are ignored? That is a terrible message for the people of rural Ontario.

Mr. McCulloch’s comments may also have undermined a community health investigation being carried out at the request of Huron County citizens, funded by Ontario taxpayers. The investigation was initiated by public health officials in the Huron County Health Unit in response to clusters of health complaints related to wind turbines. It is being carried out under authority of the Ontario Health Promotion and Protection Act.

But now, is all hope for this project dashed? At the hands of a government lawyer? Mr. McCulloch, a public servant, demeaned the investigation process and criticized the fact that it relied on information solicited from “volunteers.” By “volunteers” he meant Ontario citizens, the same citizens who have been dutifully filing complaints with the environment ministry since 2006, with little or no action.

Contrary to Mr. McCulloch’s remarks on the methodology in the investigation, it is modeled on the Health Canada community study, and received ethics approval from a university. Various challenges in the community (non-disclosure clauses in wind turbine lease agreements, distrust of more “study,” and despair at the lack of government action) have led to a lower participation level than expected by the investigating health professionals.

In recent weeks, the Medical Officer of Health and the staff epidemiologist have been in the media, renewing invitations for citizens to participate.

Who will participate in that important ongoing community health project now? Speaking apparently on behalf of the government, lawyer McCulloch essentially said any results will mean nothing to the MECP.

The lawyer also told the Tribunal that current Ontario setbacks and noise limits reflect the “consensus view” of the impact of wind turbines on health. That statement purposely ignores a report prepared by the Council of Canadian Academies for the federal government that demonstrated the basic measurement tool Ontario uses to assess wind turbine noise is inadequate, as well as the report issued by the Australian Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbine Noise, and recent announcements from the World Health Organization recommending a more stringent noise standard for wind turbines in Europe than is used in Ontario.

Mr. McCulloch’s statements to the Environment Review Tribunal were misleading.

The environment ministry should clarify his remarks immediately, in order for the Tribunal to be informed with the truth.

 

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

*Master Incident Report 7465-8KCC68, pages 2-3

For information on the Huron County community investigation: https://www.huronhealthunit.ca/reports-and-statistics/investigations/wind-turbine-study/

 

End unnecessary wind power project and save $400 million: WCO to Premier Ford

 

A new wind power project will be a huge expense to Ontario consumers, and has worrisome environmental features, too. End it, Wind Concerns Ontario says.

October 31, 2018

At the meeting of the Standing Committee on Social Policy at Queen’s Park on Monday, October 29, the president of the wind power industry’s trade association and lobbyist, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) spoke against ending the Green Energy Act in Ontario because, he said, wind power is now the cheapest option for power generation.

He claimed that contracts in Alberta now average 3.7 cents per kilowatt hour, which actually excludes support payments funded by carbon taxes in that province. We leave analysis of this almost certainly false claim to the usual analysts (Parker Gallant, Scott Luft, Steve Aplin, Marc Brouillette and others), but we have questions:

Why did Ontario contract for wind power at Nation Rise for 8.5 cents per kWh?

Why is this project going ahead at all, when there is no demonstrated need for the power?*

And,

Why will Ontario electricity customers have to pay more than $400 million for a power project we don’t need?

The Nation Rise project in North Stormont (between Cornwall and Ottawa) is an emblem of everything wrong with Ontario’s renewables policy, under the former government. The 100-megawatt power project, being developed by wind power giant EDP with head offices in Spain, is minutes away from the R H Saunders Generating Station, whose full 1,000-megawatt capacity powered by the St. Lawrence River is rarely used.

Wind power, on the other hand, unlike hydro power, is intermittent and not to be relied upon — in Ontario, wind power is produced out-of-phase with demand (at night and in the spring and fall when demand is low).

And, it’s expensive.

Lawrence Solomon, executive director of Energy Probe in Toronto wrote Monday in the Financial Post that Ontario’s renewables are a significant factor in the mess that is Ontario’s power system. Renewables, he said, “which account for just seven per cent of Ontario’s electricity output but consume 40 per cent of the above-market fees consumers are forced to provide. Cancelling those contracts would lower residential rates by a whopping 24 per cent”.

Nation Rise may cost Ontario  as much as $451 million over the 20-year contract, or $22 million a year.**

But there is more on Nation Rise, which again highlights the problem with many wind power developments — the dramatic impact on the environment for little benefit.

Serious environmental concerns have arisen during the citizen-funded appeal of the Nation Rise project, including the fact that it is to be built on land that contains many areas of unstable Leda or “quick” clay, and it is also in an earthquake zone. No seismic assessments were asked for by the environment ministry, or done. In fact, a “technical expert” for the environment ministry did not visit the project site as part of his “technical review” it was revealed during the appeal, but instead visited quarries outside the area.

He testified in fact that he didn’t even know Leda clay was present until after his inspection, until after he filed his report with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, and until after he filed his evidence statement with the Environmental Review Tribunal.

Nation Rise received a conditions-laden Renewable Energy Approval just days before the writ for the June Ontario election.

It is Wind Concerns Ontario’s position that the Renewable Energy Approval for this project should be revoked, and the project ended, to save the environment, and save the people of Ontario hundreds of millions of dollars.

 

We don’t want to pay $400+ million for the power from Nation Rise.

#CancelNationRise

*CanWEA and others neck-deep in the wind power game recite a statement purportedly from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in a Globe and M<ail article that Ontario will be in a power shortage in five years. This is false, of course, as the IESO hurried to correct.

**Thanks to Parker Gallant for these calculations.

Green Energy Act meant serious problems for rural Ontario: WCO

New draft bill doesn’t go far enough to address change needed to undo damage

October 30, 2018

Citizens of Dutton Dunwich oppose a wind power project–under the Green Energy Act, their concerns had no weight. A new bill doesn’t seem to change that.

 

In a presentation before the Standing Committee on Social Policy, Wind Concerns Ontario described the wide range of problems caused for all of Ontario, and especially rural and small-town communities, by the Green Energy Act.

Bill 34, which aims to change aspects of the Green Energy Act, is at the committee stage, before receiving final approval by the Legislature.

Presenting for the coalition of community group members and individuals and family members of Wind Concerns Ontario was executive vice-president Warren Howard, a former bank executive and municipal councilor.

He reviewed the problems with wind turbine noise and disturbed water wells; the removal of local land-use planning for municipalities; and the fact that municipalities are now being called upon by residents for help with these negative impacts of the wind power projects, but that they are helpless to do much. In some cases, he said, municipalities tried to take action to protect the health of their residents, but were met by threats of expensive legal action by wind power developers.

The rules for the approval and operation of wind power projects are not based on solid science, Howard said, and are today, out of line with rules in other jurisdictions.

Wind Concerns Ontario obtained documents showing thousands of official records of complaints of excessive noise and vibration from wind turbines, he said, but the response rate from the former Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change was poor.

In more than a few cases, people across Ontario have abandoned their homes because of the impact of wind turbine noise emissions.   Even though the Ministry’s Spills Action Line operates on a 24 hour-7 day per week basis and had the capability to respond on an emergency basis to other environment issues, the only response to wind turbine complaints was to advise the District Office who would respond in a day  or  so.  There is no evidence of action being taken on requests by frustrated residents that turbines be turned off so that they could sleep.

The new Bill does not go far enough in making the necessary changes required to repair the damage done to Ontario by the Green Energy Act, Howard explained to the committee. There is no change, for example, in the role of municipalities to approve wind power projects, and there seems to be no provision for enforcement of existing noise regulations, which need to be improved.

Wind Concerns called for retraction of the Chief Medical Officer of Health statement published in 2010, denying that health issues are linked to wind turbine noise. The document is incomplete and outdated, yet it is being relied on as the foundation for environment ministry response.

Wind Concerns also called for regulation 359/09 be rewritten and action be taken to address the 4,562 complaints about wind turbine problems.

The official submission to the Standing Committee on Social Policy is here: Social Policy Committee October 30 FINAL.

Risk of turbine construction, operation high for Nation Rise project: geoscientist

October 15, 2018

ERT chair Maureen Cartier-Whitney hears evidence on groundwater. Geoscientist said it is possible there is no effective mitigation for the vibration produced by turbine construction and operation.

Finch, Ontario — The Nation Rise wind power project, which received Renewable Energy Approval in May, poses a significant risk to people and the environment due to vibration connected to the construction and operation of the wind turbines, a geoscientist told the Environmental Review Tribunal when the citizen-funded appeal resumed today.

Angelique Magee said that the project area is located on the former Champlain Sea and the nature of the soils plus the presence of Leda or “quick” clay represents a “high potential” for landslides. She provided details of landslides that have occurred in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, including one that resulted in loss of life. She also recounted the story of the village of Lemieux which was evacuated due to risk of a landslide because of Leda clay and which subsequently did slide into the Nation River, causing a loss of land, killing fish and destroying fish habitat.

Leda clay is prevalent throughout the region, Magee said. The soil is such that when it is disturbed by vibration, it can become liquid, thus causing the landslides. The risk is high, McGee said, and would pose a serious risk to human health and a serious and irreversible risk to the environment.

She mentioned the fact that Eastern Ontario also has many earthquakes which would add to the risk, due to seismic vibration. She was asked if mitigation is possible, and answered that the proponent is supposed to identify all the wells in the project area, but has not fulfilled that requirement of the Renewable Energy Approval. “There is no assurance of the quantity or quality of water.”

The project area is situated on a “highly vulnerable aquifer” she noted and the wells serving homes, businesses and farms are often shallow or “dug” wells as opposed to drilled wells. The proponents’ information on wells is out of date, she added. The proponent’s lawyer, John Terry, asked if it isn’t true that there are many areas of vulnerable aquifers in Ontario. “Yes,” she responded  “but it is important to consider local characteristics. In this case, that means the presence of the shallow wells, which would be affected.”

A third risk factor is the presence of karst topography which is characterized by fissures and can lead to contamination of groundwater in certain situations, construction vibration included.

The geoscientist was asked about the use of quarries in the proponents’ environmental assessment, which she said was not appropriate. The turbines would cause constant vibration, she said, which different from blasting occasionally.

When asked if the conditions of the REA would prevent harm, Ms Magee said, no. The measures proposed would not necessarily prevent a landslide or contamination of the groundwater, and the proponent has not conducted the proper identification of the water wells in the area, or done a proper assessment of the impact of seismic vibration on the soil and aquifer.

The only mitigation that would ensure no harm to people or the environment would be to not locate turbines in vulnerable areas such as this, McGee said.

In his cross-examination, lawyer Terry suggested that Magee’s interest was simply that she owns property in the Nation Rise project area, and her real concern was the value of her property. “My concerns are primarily based on geology,” she answered, “and yes, if the wind turbines affect the wells then I am concerned that homes will not be sellable.” Mr. Terry also tried to suggest that Ms Magee used Wikipedia as a source of information to which she responded that she used scientific studies and papers to prepare her evidence, the same papers that may have been used in the Wikipedia entry. She said, she may have used the Wikipedia entry I order to use language non-scientists could understand, she said.

The hearing continues October 16, and closing arguments will be presented in Toronto on November 23rd.

The proponent has not fulfilled a requirement to identify all wells in the project area. Signs demanding water testing line a street in Finch, Ontario.

 

 

A voice silenced: Mike McCann

October 11, 2018

When wind power developers roll in their Trojan Horse to communities boasting of multiple benefits such as more jobs, prosperity and a cleaner environment, one thing they fail to mention — and in fact argue against vehemently — is the loss in property value for those people whose homes are suddenly located inside industrial power projects.

Chicago real estate appraiser and consultant Mike McCann was someone who studied the property value loss phenomenon, and appeared before various legal tribunals and committees to talk about it.

Mr. McCann studied Ontario properties, too, and was one of the group of professionals we often called upon for advice.

Mike McCann died this week in Chicago, after a battle with cancer.

Read his Obituary here

See a summary of property value loss studies by Mike McCann here.