Former oil drilling roughneck now university professor says vibrations such as from pile-driving is well known to affect wells. The MOECC, however, relies on a report from the power developers’ consultant, which says it doesn’t. Choosing what to measure seems key.

Experts are lined up against the MOECC in their views on what’s happening in Chatham-Kent [Photo: Council of Canadians]

Debate continues on water wells and contamination

Jeffrey Carter
Special to Ontario Farmer
February 20, 2018
Geological engineer Maurice Dusseault wasn’t surprised to hear that Chatham-Kent water wells were contaminated in the wake of pile driving for wind turbines.
“Pile driving emits a lot of low-frequency energy, and it is not at all surprising to me that there could be related groundwater effects. The concept of large-amplitude, low frequency excitation as an aid to liquid flow is reasonably well-known,” the University of Waterloo professor said.
“Low frequency deformation waves are absolutely known to lead to fluctuation in ground water levels as well as changes in the particulate count in shallow groundwater wells.”
In addition, Dusseault said affected residents were well-advised in having their wells baseline tested prior to construction last summer. It’s the type of evaluation he recommends.
Before and after tests sent by the Water Wells First citizens’ group to RTI Laboratories in Michigan show an exponential increase [in] turbidity among the 14 affected wells, including [a] large proportion that can be attributed to Kettle [Point] black shale particles that are known to contain heavy metals, including uranium, arsenic and lead.
That’s not the conclusion reached by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, as outlined in letters recently sent to affected well owners living near the North Kent One project in the northern part of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.
While there’s been an admission that wells have indeed been contaminated, that contamination can only be attributed to “unidentified factors.”
Pile-driving activities associated with wind turbine development are not to blame, the MOECC maintains.
The MOECC, in coming to its conclusion, relied upon the vibration evaluations prepared for the developers Samsung and Pattern Energy, by Golder Associates Limited. Golder measured changes to particle velocity as a measure of vibration intensity created by pile driving.
“The ministry has reviewed Golder’s assessment and agreed with the conclusion that any pile driving -induced vibrations at your well would have been much lower than those created during common daily activities around the homes,” a letter to one of the affected families states.
The parameters used by Golder, however, may be flawed….

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