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Chatham-Kent residents frustrated with wind turbine construction they blame for tainting their drinking water staged another blockade Tuesday morning and have temporarily shut down the North Kent Wind project.
It is the second blockade in as many weeks by the group calling itself Water Wells First. It is protesting what it believes is provincial inaction on pile driving residents claim is pushing bits of sediment into their drinking water.
“The people here in the community just feel like they’re sitting like guinea pigs, waiting to be plucked out and experimented on,” said spokesperson Kevin Jakubec during the blockade held on Aug. 17.
“The tensions are boiling over here.”
Following that blockade, Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope wrote to minister of environment Chris Ballard, asking for an “immediate intervention” in the water quality issues due to “conflicting reports” on water quality that created “fear and concern among residents.”
“The ministry cannot remain silent on this very important issue,” the mayor added. “This is an extremely urgent matter which demands immediate, decisive action from your ministry and government.”
On Monday, the municipality said it will contact affected residents in the bid to find a mutually acceptable water-testing lab. The municipality has identified 17 potential labs and said it will cover the cost of inspections on five wells currently experiencing problems.
“We want to ensure there are no concerns about who does the testing,” said Chatham-Kent CAO Don Shropshire. “We’ve provided the list but the choice will be up to the residents.”
In a recent statement, Gary Wheeler, a spokesman for Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, said the government takes water quality concerns “very seriously” and has imposed several conditions on pile driving companies, including vibration monitoring.
“Well water quality testing prior to wind turbine construction shows that turbidity in the wells is associated with naturally occurring groundwater conditions,” wrote Wheeler, adding the company will continue to monitor water quality and vibrations as the project continues.
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