Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton is throwing his support behind a council motion asking the province to halt wind turbine construction until water well issues are investigated.
Chatham-Kent council passed the motion, entered by Wallaceburg Coun. Jeff Wesley, on Monday.
Five water wells in the North Kent Wind project area, currently under construction by Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Energy, have been clogged with sediments shortly after recent pile-driving took place for constructing industrial wind turbines.
“I’m happy about the motion. It supports the letters that I’ve sent over the last number of years,” the Progressive Conservative McNaughton said Tuesday. “We’ve asked questions during Question Period raising this issue. … We’ve presented petitions.
“The government has to take these concerns seriously.”
Wesley’s motion asked the following:
– Determine an independent third-party expert, not paid for by the wind turbine company, to be on-call 24-7, agreed to by the affected water well owners, and paid for by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
– Identify performance standards by which well owners will have a problem identified and resolved.
– Schedule a special meeting with the ministry for a full report.
North Kent Coun. Joe Faas entered a successful amendment asking that Chatham-Kent cover the cost of well testing for the five wells currently experiencing problems. The inspector will be jointly selected by the well owner and the municipality.
Concerns have been raised about the potential danger if the sediments are from the Kettle Point black shale bedrock formation in the area, known to contain heavy metals such as arsenic, uranium and lead.
When contacted by The Daily News on Tuesday about council’s motion, the ministry stated: “We have taken a cautious, science-based approach when setting standards for renewable energy projects to protect the people of Ontario. In response to concerns raised by area residents, the ministry imposed a number of conditions in the Renewable Energy Approval for this project. We recognize the concerns raised and we are committed to working with the municipality on this matter.”
Pattern Energy released a statement saying it takes the issue seriously and is working with residents.
“We are committed to working with the community as construction progresses on the project. We understand the importance of having access to a clean water supply for families,” the statement read. “We will continue our vibration monitoring program throughout the piling activity and investigate any water quality complaints we receive either directly from the affected landowner or from the MOECC promptly. We remind everyone who experiences water well disturbance near our construction activity to please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call, toll free, 1-855-780-3859.”
McNaughton said water is a basic necessity that residents have a right to, noting he’s seen the problems first-hand.
“These families must be protected,” he said. “It’s just common sense.
“I demand, with the municipality, to halt this project until the due diligence takes place.”
The MPP added that he doesn’t believe the province should continue building more wind projects, citing the high cost of power.
“In my opinion, we continue to produce way more energy than Ontario needs,” he said. “They should stop signing these contracts. … But this (North Kent) one needs immediate attention.”
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