If the Ontario Liberals don’t return to power after the June 7 election, a local citizen group will be well positioned to get some action on their concerns over water wells in the north Chatham-Kent area.
With less than a month before Ontarians go to the polls, Water Wells First has received a written commitment from the leaders of four political parties – The Progressive Conservatives, the New Democrats, the Green Party and the Trillium Party – a health hazard investigation will be conducted regarding black shale particles that have clogged water wells in the Chatham and Dover Township areas where wind turbines operate.
Water Wells First spokesperson Kevin Jakubec recently called out PC Leader Doug Ford for not immediately committing to the investigation or taking time to visit an well impacted by the sediments during his swing through the region on April 20.
However, a letter dated May 5, signed by Ford, offers the promise the group was seeking.
“I commit myself and the PC Party of Ontario to stopping this travesty and commit that a full health hazard investigation is conducted in north Chatham-Kent so that the full extent of the health risks and the number of families affected is known,” states the letter from Ford.
The PC leader adds that as premier he gives his word “we will hold accountable every party that did this.”
Bob Yaciuk, Trillium leader, referenced the party’s four-year fight to halt the building of wind turbines as well as remove the turbines that currently exist, in his correspondence to Water Wells First.
“Well water contamination is an extraordinarily serious concern and the Trillium Party of Ontario is fully supporting a thorough investigation in the health damage wind turbines are having on well water throughout the province,” Yaciuk said. “This investigation is far overdue and should be initiated immediately.”
Water Wells First began raising concerns nearly two years ago about the potential impact the construction of the North Kent Wind farm would have on water wells due to Kettle Point black shale geology and the shallow aquifer in the area. Since then, more than 20 water wells have reported significant amount of sediments that have clogged up the flow of water during construction and after operation of the wind farm began. The group says this particular shale is known to contain metals such as uranium, arsenic and lead that are known to be harmful to human health.
However, the wind project developers – Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Energy, have stated on the record the wind farm has had no impact on area water wells. This claim has been supported by the Ministry of Enviroment and Climate Change.
Jakubec mused about the group of farmers that banded together and kept at this cause.
“Outspoken activism can be effective in putting a spotlight on serious deficiencies in government services and still serves our society in an important role in speaking the truth to those in power,” he said.
Jakubec noted four Ontario political parties recognize “the urgent need to find out the extent of the health risks posed by the substances now contaminating the natural drinking water supply in north Chatham-Kent.”
He indicated Water Wells First will demand Premier Kathleen Wynne immediately stop the Renewable Energy Approval permitting process for the Otter Creek Wind farm planned for north Wallaceburg that is part of the same aquifer with Kettle Point black shale present.
Jakubec said the group will also demand Chris Ballard, Minister of Environment and Climate Change “lead by example and follow his own words when he speaks: ‘The ministry takes the concerns of groundwater seriously,’ and place a stop on the Otter Creek Wind development.”
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