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In an effort to halt construction of a wind turbine project in North Kent, three protesters chained themselves together in a show of solidarity on Tuesday.
Sheltered from the rain, but weathering the elements, Rick Ball, Lee Montgomery and Yvonne Laevens were at the entrance to the site on Bush Line, near Highway 40 in the former Chatham Township.
“It should have never have gone this far,” Laevens said. “We have to (do this). We’ve tried just about everything else.”
Several 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.
Tuesday’s protest was peaceful, with Laevens adding that Chatham-Kent police have been “congenial” with the group.
Ball said he appreciated the members of the public who were on hand and hopes the government takes notice.
“Start paying attention to what we’ve been saying for a year and a half,” he said.
Last week, Chatham-Kent council passed a motion asking the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to halt the project until water well concerns were dealt with.
Ball said a halt would allow everyone involved to work together on a solution.
Also part of the council motion was to implement independent water testing for the wells currently experiencing problems.
In a media release, the municipality stated that residents near the North Kent One wind farm project whose wells have water-quality issues will be contacted by Chatham-Kent officials this week to allow them to select a firm to test their well water at no cost.
Municipal chief administrative officer Don Shropshire said the municipality, working with public health officials, have identified 17 labs in Ontario that are licensed and accredited by the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation to test drinking water for microbiological agents, organic chemicals, inorganic chemicals, and other particulate matter.
Shropshire said in the release that residents will have the option to choose any of the accredited labs.
“We want to ensure there are no concerns about who does the testing,” he said. “We’ve provided the list but the choice will be up to the residents.”
At a meeting last week between municipal officials and ministry representatives, the province also committed to contact owners of wells which have experienced issues and review those concerns with Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Energy.
As for the request to halt the project, the municipality’s release stated “that request is still before the premier’s office.”
In a statement e-mailed to The Daily News on Tuesday afternoon, the company said it was aware of the water well concerns.
“Having access to clean water is essential, and this is an issue the North Kent Wind team understands can be unsettling and we take (it) very seriously,” the statement read. “We developed a program that was approved by the ministry and we have followed this program very diligently.”
“We hired scientific experts (Golder Associates) to conduct testing of vibrations prior to construction, which concluded that construction and operation of the turbines will not cause harm to groundwater quality. That study found there is no plausible mechanism by which fine rock particles can be transported tens or hundreds of metres from turbine locations to water wells. In addition, we have hired independent firms to investigate water well complaints. The first investigation by environmental consultant AECOM concluded that the groundwater quality and supply issues experienced are not a result of construction or pile-driving activities.”
The company stated it will continue to work with the ministry, municipality and landowners on the issue.
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