Water Wells First has a second Ontario political party joining the call for a health hazard investigation into damaged water wells in the North Kent area.
Spokesperson Kevin Jakubec said he called the Green Party to ask where they stood on the health hazard investigation the citizen group has been calling for.
He said party leader Mike Schreiner responded by stating, “we stand with you on this.”
The citizen group raised the alarm before water wells started to go bad during the construction and operation of the North Kent Wind farm project. Water Wells First believes vibrations from pile driving and now the operation of the wind farm have caused Kettle Point black shale sediments from the bedrock to clog several water wells.
However, the wind developer and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change have agreed that it is not the industrial wind turbines causing the wells to experience problems.
Jakubec provided The Chatham Daily News with a letter signed by Schreiner that details the party’s support.
“It is necessary for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to follow their own guidelines relating to the enforcement of regulations and the precautionary principle,” Schreiner wrote.
He adds that the safety and preservation of drinking water is paramount to any industrial activity.
“The GPO strongly supports wind energy, and we believe the renewable energy projects must be developed in ways that comply with sound environmental regulations and management practices,” Schreiner said.
Earlier this month, NDP leader Andrea Horwath also called for the province to order a health hazard investigation into what is happening with water wells in the area, after seeing the damage to a local water well first hand.
Calling what she saw “outrageous,” Horwath said, “These families deserve for their government to take this seriously.”
Jakubec said it feels great to have two party leaders show their support, noting, “It kind of validates all the work we’ve been doing.”
He also hopes it sends a message to Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford, who wasn’t as eager to offer support on the issue when visiting the area last week.
Jakubec said he asked Ford if he would call for a health hazard investigation and the PC leader responded he would look into it. He was disappointed Ford didn’t take the time to visit a damaged well like the other two party leaders did.
“That’s not good enough,” Jakubec said.
He noted there is a precedent for a health hazard investigation being conducted in relation to a wind turbine.
Jakubec provided a 2013 report on a health hazard investigation of a transformer station in Fergus, Ont., conducted by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, after assistance was requested by the Ontario environment ministry.
He said health hazard protocols can provide information on what the safe level of black shale particles can be present in well water. He added this will help determine the proper certified filtration technology needed to effectively filter out the black shale.
Jakubec said he’s heard from another Water Wells First member that four other landowners have been experiencing well water issues since the North Kent Wind project has been operating.
However, he said they don’t want to come forward because they don’t believe MOECC will do anything.
“It’s put a chill on it.”
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