Chatham-Kent’s Colby defends wind turbines: water contamination ‘not possible’
Medical Officer of Health tells international audience that “the notion that extensive fracturing of bedrock could result from piles is ludicrous.”
June 25, 2019
Speaking at the 2019 conference on wind turbine noise in Lisbon, Portugal earlier this month, Dr. David Colby took on “allegations” of disturbance of well water by wind turbine construction and pronounced the situation as impossible.
Dr. Colby was listed simply in the conference programme as being associated with Western University (he is an associate professor of microbiology and immunology) but did not list his position as Medical Officer of Health for Chatham-Kent.
In decidedly un-academic language he began by stating that “allegations of water well interference, sediment infiltration and aquifer contamination due to ground borne vibrations from wind turbine construction and operation have been levied against a wind farm in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada.”
Dr Colby’s paper is simply a recitation of evidence provided by the wind power proponent/operator and by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment at the appeal of the project. He states that the appeal was withdrawn, implying that there was no basis for it. In fact, the proponent sprang a technical report on the Appellant during the proceedings and the Tribunal refused to allow the Appellant (appearing without legal counsel) time to review the report — the Appellant was left no choice but to withdraw.
Relying on a technical report prepared for the wind power operator by Aecom Canada and the original environment ministry assessment, Colby concluded that “water quality in the study area of Chatham-Kent was poor from the outset.
“There is no evidence that water wells are being systematically affected by construction or operation of wind turbines,” Dr Colby concluded.
Not content with negating the complaints of dozens of property owners in his public health jurisdiction, Dr Colby also took a swipe at citizens in North Stormont, where one of the main concerns is that the 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project is being built on an area deemed by the province to be a “highly vulnerable aquifer.” He cited the fact the appeal was dismissed by the Environmental Review Tribunal as more proof that there is no association between wind turbines and well disturbance.
But that’s not what groundwater experts say.
In the current issue of the journal of the Ontario Groundwater Association, “Turbidity and Turbines” is the feature article, which includes an interview with hydrogeologist Bill Clarke.
“There is no doubt in my mind this is well interference,” Clarke said.
Joel Gagnon, professor in Environmental and Earth Sciences at the University of Waterloo was also interviewed about testing he and a team of students carried out on the Chatham-Kent affected wells. Where Dr Colby states outright that not only is there no problem with the well water, it’s actually impossible that there could be, Professor Gagnon says “there is a lot of uncertainty.”
He wants more investigation into the issue.
The Groundwater article says that there are not more than 80 water wells affected in Chatham-Kent. Hydrogeologist Clarke is concerned about the future, and worries the situation could become a “tragedy.”
“Why not stop,” he says, “reflect on what we don’t know.”
Read an excerpt from the David Colby presentation here: WTN2019-groundwaterExcerpt
Read the Groundwater Association article here.