An Environmental Review Tribunal hearing may have been cancelled regarding the North Kent Wind project, but Water Wells First member Mike deBakker says area residents still deserve answers.
“The families in the former Dover Township with contaminated wells need the explanation for why their wells became damaged after wind turbine foundation construction,” said the North Kent resident.
An appeal, launched by Kevin Jakubec, a founder of the citizen group Water Wells First, opposing the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) for the North Kent Wind project, was withdrawn just as an ERT hearing was set to begin Wednesday in Chatham.
The crux of the appeal, filed under the Environmental Protection Act, was the REA will result in harm to human health and natural environment due to the damage to area water wells that will be caused by vibrations during the construction and ongoing operation of the industrial turbines.
Several landowners in the Dover area say vibrations from an existing wind farm, near where the North Kent Wind project is to be built, has damaged their water wells.
However, neither Jakubec, Pattern Energy, the company building the wind farm, nor the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change are providing any information regarding a mediated settlement reached as part of having the appeal withdrawn.
deBakker said members of Water Wells First are being patient.
“We want to wait to see what Kevin is going to say, because . . . we don’t know what these conditions are,” he said.
However, deBakker doesn’t want the public to think “this is a down and out issue.”
He is particularly interested in finding out information contained in a report presented to the ERT during a preliminary hearing by Golder Associates Ltd., the expert witness for the North Kent Wind.
deBakker points to a media release issued by the Municipality of Chatham-Kent on Wednesday, which backs the findings of the Golder Associates report that ground vibrations generated during construction and operation of wind turbines has insignificant effects on well water conditions.
If this is true, deBakker questions why the REA for the North Kent Wind farm requires the company to retain a qualified seismologist to develop a ground-borne vibration monitoring program. This is to include measuring and monitoring ground-borne vibration generated from pile-driving activities during construction of the facility as well as from the operation of the facility.
He believes local residents should be able to see what is in the Golder Associates report.
“There’s a lot of people with damaged wells and what explains that?” deBakker asked, adding the problems began when the turbines were built.
“There’s something going on down in that aquifer,” he said . . . “because something is just not right.”
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