With concerns still being raised about the potential impact of turbines on well water, the provincial government is planning to follow through with a health-hazard investigation, says an area MPP and minister.
Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP and Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton said the Progressive Conservatives will “absolutely” honour their election pledge.
“(We) moved extremely quickly to fulfill our promises for the people of Ontario,” he said on Tuesday. “One of those was to cancel the Otter Creek wind project and 758 other renewable projects across the province.”
Water Wells First, a grassroots group, began raising concerns 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 amounts 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 harmful to human health.
However, the wind project developers – Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Energy – have stated the wind farm has had no impact on area water wells.
McNaughton said he will continue to listen to the voices of those impacted, but he couldn’t yet give a timeframe for a health-hazard investigation.
“We fully intend to honour that commitment,” he said. “I can be clear about that.
“In an eight-week period, we have moved decisively and quickly to fulfill our promises.”
A letter dated May 5, signed by Doug Ford, who ultimately became premier, offered the party’s commitment.
“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,” stated the letter.
Water Wells First spokesperson Kevin Jakubec said on Tuesday he is optimistic the investigation will move ahead, noting the promise was in writing.
However, he admitted he hopes to nail down a timeframe sooner rather than later.
“We’re very hopeful that they’re going to come through,” Jakubec said. “We’re just waiting for when they’re going to announce the start date. We’ve got to get a resolution to it.”
– With Ellwood Shreve files
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