Construction has begun on the first turbine in the North Kent Wind Farm. One support pipe was driven and already there is a problem.
In the engineer’s wisdom, they chose to use iron pipe for the support columns that go down to bedrock to support the weight, torque and consequently vibration cause by the operation of the turbine. These pipes had a concrete plug “sort of” inserted into the end that would be going down. The pile driver aimed this end down, at the precise angle, and began driving it down.
Then the problems started.
The open end of the pipe was not sealed. It rained. Now water from the ground surface is hydraulically connected to the aquifer. This means that if a bird landed on that open pipe and dropped a message, it could go right down to the aquifer or perhaps, if the bird lost its balance, it fell down there and started decaying. Goodness knows what kinds of diseases that birds could be carrying!
The sad part is the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change was warned before the pile driving began that these open ends on the pipe must be capped. Was the MOECC anywhere around to see what was happening? No! Was the Chatham-Kent building inspector around to see what was happening, not only to see if construction was carried out according to plan, but also to protect the $8 million of our tax money they’ve invested in this project? No!
Any resulting problems, in my opinion, have exposed both the MOECC and Chatham-Kent open to negligence. How much insurance does the municipality carry?
Gary Wheeler from the MOECC was quoted as saying: “Concerns about groundwater and the health of residents are always taken seriously.” How many complaints has your ministry visited in the last six months and taken water samples to analyze what is in the water? None!
He also said: “A cautious, science-based approach is used when setting standards for renewable energy projects.” Are you not omitting a few scientific principles? Water flows downhill. It seeks the lowest point. If particles are analyzed and found to have the same chemical composition as rock, that is where they came from. To find out what is in the water, the MOECC needs to take water samples and using proper analysis to determine the composition. If science-base is to be used, why don’t you use it?
He also said: “In response to concerns raised by area residents, the ministry imposed a number of conditions in the Renewable Energy Approval. The company was required to conduct ground-borne vibration monitoring during construction and operation of the wind turbines. The company undertook a test pile driving vibration program before construction of production wind turbines could proceed.” You allowed the company to be the fox guarding the chicken coop! Did you set the protocol for the vibration testing? Did the equipment have to be on site? Did it have to be properly hooked up and working? Did you oversee these tests or just take their word for it? I believe it should be monitored by a third-party company or group.
And: “The company will continue monitoring for vibrations throughout the duration of the construction phase, as outlined in an approval vibratic monitoring plan.” So, Mr. Wheeler, you have essentially given all collection and analyzing of information to the company. You have essentially abdicated all of your responsibilities to the company! Why then do our tax dollars support a Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, when they don’t do anything?