A citizen group concerned about the impact a planned industrial wind farm will have on groundwater is calling on the developer to reveal whether it will seek ‘gag contracts’ from those leasing land where turbines will be constructed.
Water Wells First has posted a waiver and release agreement online at www.waterwellsfirst.org that it says those leasing land to Samsung Energy and Pattern Energy for the South Kent Wind farm were required to sign, which includes a confidentiality clause in the event there are adverse effects from the turbines in order to receive compensation.
Since the same companies own the soon-to-be constructed North Kent 1 wind project, Water Wells First is calling on local residents “who are concerned that imposing confidentiality would not be in the interests of protecting water resources, the environment and human population health” to get involved.
This includes contacting Samsung executive Joshua Vaidhyan requesting he immediately release to the public the waiver and release agreement for the North Kent 1 wind project.
The Chatham Daily News contacted Vaidhyan requesting an interview regarding this call to action by the citizen group..
A response was received from the project team stating: “North Kent Wind is not requiring anyone to sign a waiver and release agreement.
“Such agreements are only used in cases where a local resident is seeking compensation for out-of-pocket costs incurred during construction,” the statement added.
Water Wells First has been vocal in its concern that vibrations from the construction and operation of wind turbines with the North Kent 1 project will destroy the area’s aquifer because several piles will be driven into the Kettle Point black shale bedrock in the area, which is known to contain heavy metals including uranium, arsenic and mercury.
Water Wells First spokesman Kevin Jakubec stated: “Wouldn’t loss of water be an out-of-pocket expense?”
He also wonders if North Kent 1 plans to compensate for the “environmental stigma loss” to a property if it has a damaged or contaminated well due to the wind turbines.
“Would that not by their own logic and reasoning require a waiver and release agreement then?” he added.
Jakubec filed an appeal to the Environmental Review Tribunal last year over the Renewable Energy Approval for the North Kent 1 wind project. He was able to get a mediated settlement that included the company not being able to ask landowners to enter into a confidentiality clause or agreement over water samples taken.
“It’s not in the permit, which is a good thing, but it still doesn’t prevent a company from asking for people to sign (a confidentiality agreement),” Jakubec said.
“It’s really up to the people to understand their rights,” he added.
“ No one should be required to be gagged for revealing a damaged well,” Jakubec said. “That doesn’t help us protect our water resources, especially when we’re dealing with black shale.”
He said what’s needed is a “rapid reveal” if water wells do become damaged from the construction and operation of the wind farm. He added this will enable the public along with health and environmental agencies to be quickly notified and take action if there are problems with area water wells.
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