Wind turbine water activists frustrated by lack of government support

BY ALLANAH WILLS / FEBRUARY 7, 2019

Officials with a local group that advocates for clean water in the Chatham-Kent community say their cause is at a standstill right now.

Water Wells First began speaking out about the correlation between wind turbines and groundwater contamination in 2016. According to the group’s spokesperson, Jessica Brooks, the concern started when black water started appearing in local water wells after a wind farm was built in Dover Township. When a wind farm was proposed in North Kent, the group further investigated the matter.

“We realized that it was black shale sediments that were being released,” Brooks said. “We know that black shale can carry heavy metals and other toxins.”

The group of grassroots citizens, as Brooks calls them, have since been on a mission to advocate for groundwater protection and to stop the pollutants they say is caused by the construction and operation of wind turbines. As of right now, however, Brooks has claimed they are getting no support from the provincial government.

“There’s been no progress. The Ontario government still has not called a health hazard investigation,” said Brooks. “Really we’re stalled out until that happens because we need to have this toxin identified in our drinking water. As long as there’s no investigation into it, we’re kind of stuck for a bit.”

Brooks said the group continues to get the “run around” from the government. According to Brooks, the last contact she had with them was with the Ministry of the Environment, which told her it was looking into materials and information that was provided in 2017. However, Brooks said the ministry has only taken information from the wind companies and not from the residents of the area.

“If they’re just shuffling those papers around, we’re going to have the same answer. If they’re actually investigating and looking at new information, then maybe we’ll get somewhere,” said Brooks.

North Kent Wind has put a statement on its website regarding the matter that reads: “In response to concerns raised by some community members about the North Kent Wind project and potential impacts to residential water supply wells, North Kent Wind hired licensed experts to extensively study the issue. This independent research and analysis included a baseline water quality survey and a program to measure surface and subsurface vibrations during construction activity and facility operations. The results demonstrate that the construction and operation of the North Kent Wind turbines has not and will not affect water supply wells in the project area.”

Brooks said she believes the government and the wind companies are sweeping the problem under the rug to protect their image.

“Wind energy is supposed to be this clean, green energy. But if it damages water then it’s not so green. So then what? We’ve got this perception of what wind turbines can and can’t do and this will change that,” said Brooks.

According to Brooks, the next step for the group is to continue pressuring the government to investigate the water pollutant.

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