Ontario: Water, Water Everywhere – But Thanks to Wind Turbines – Not A Drop to Drink

Wind farm neighbour, Dave Lusk with filthy water
drawn from his Wallaceburg well.

 

Wind farm neighbours are forced to endure all manner of wholly unnecessary suffering. Incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound drives them nuts at nighttime or, in plenty of cases, out of their homes, altogether.

In Ontario, around the shores of the Great Lakes, the latest outrage involves wind power outfits destroying local underground water supplies (upon which farmers and householders critically depend) and lying to their victims about the obvious cause.

Wind energy may be green, but the water in Chatham-Kent is brown
TVO
Mary Baxter
12 February 2018

Every morning since he lost the use of his well, Dave Lusk wakes up and tries not to let the anger seep in. But when he makes a trip from the water cooler in the kitchen and back to his bathroom vanity to wash up, it’s a reminder of the precariousness of his water supply.

Lusk blames that fact on the wind turbines being built nearby, and the companies developing them.

The 51-year-old owns a farm near Wallaceburg — in north Chatham-Kent, near the northeast shore of Lake St. Clair — that has been in the family for four generations. Lusk is among a large number of local rural residents who believe the problems with their well water owe to the interaction between local wind farm development and the area’s unique geology. The sedimentary bedrock — dark in colour and fine-grained — lurks beneath most of Chatham-Kent. It’s known to contain sulphur, carbon, and toxic heavy metals.

Lusk says his well was drilled by his father half a century ago and had always run clear — until sediment clogged it last October. Now, the water is the colour of tea and when poured, and small particles sink to the bottom of a glass.

“We’ve waved the red flag from day one and they just keep pushing through,” he says of the companies spearheading the 34-turbine North Kent Wind 1 project that surrounds his farm, and which is undergoing final testing before beginning operations later this year.

When wind turbines began appearing on Ontario’s rural horizons in the late 2000s, they were hailed as an environmentally friendly way to generate green energy. Controversy soon followed as people living near the structures complained of noise, health problems, and negative effects on property values as well as the environment.

Ensuing government research debunked some of the claims. A 2014 health federal health study, for instance, showed that “annoyance” was the sole condition found to increase as levels of wind turbine noise increased. (The report did note that community annoyance was statistically related to health effects such as migraines, blood pressure changes, tinnitus, and stress.)

But events in Chatham-Kent raise the possibility that the massive wind catchers pose unique and under-considered risks to the region’s environment, and the health and safety of its residents.

In January, for instance, a wind turbine buckled in Chatham-Kent. A dramatic photo of the 160-tonne turbine bent like a straw made national news. Local Progressive Conservative MPP Rick Nicholls questioned the standards used for the structures and called for the wind farm’s remaining structures to be inspected. It also prompted a local petition calling for all wind turbines across the country to be inspected. The owner, Terraform Power, is still investigating the cause and in the meantime has stopped the operation of the other turbines on the farm.

A less visible — but arguably much graver — issue to emerge involves the question Lusk and his neighbours are asking the province and wind turbine developers: What do they really know about the underground impacts of wind turbine vibrations? And how to those vibrations interact with the characteristic local bedrock?

Picking up bad vibrations
Lusk is a member of Water Wells First, a grassroots group of about 60 families, their friends, and relatives, based north of Chatham. Residents living among the 55-turbine East Lake St. Clair wind farm, commissioned 2013, formed the group three years later to voice their complaints about vibrations affecting local wells. But they had no proof.

So when Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Development proposed the nearby North Kent Wind project, its future neighbours feared they, too, might experience water quality problems. They organized, and took baseline water samples to potentially help prove any claims regarding their water quality later on.

Kevin Jakubec, spokesman for Water Wells First and an area farmer, says the concern is that vibrations — either from pile driving during the construction phase or, eventually, the everyday operations of the turbines — might disturb the fragile Kettle Point black shale bedrock and contaminate the ancient aquifer that serves as the local source of well water. The worry was justified: It is well established that vibrations from pile driving can damage nearby structures.

As for ordinary turbine operations, one recent Canadian study found a relationship between the vibrations and ground material within 100 metres of the structure.

Moreover, Water Wells First contends that the company and ministry didn’t take the special characteristics of the local geology into account. Residents realized their worst fears as the project began the construction phase last summer. Nineteen wells began to experience sediment problems, Jakubec says — nearly a third of the 64 wells that the group members had tested at their own expense. Bill Clarke, a hydrogeologist for Water Wells First who gathered and analyzed the samples, says follow-up testing showed the affected wells experienced changes in water turbidity, amount of particles, colour, and rate of flow.

While he says some of the changes were marginal, others were alarming. In one instance, the black shale particle count jumped from 47 particles per millilitre to 681,939 — with nearly half of the particles being as tiny as those found in cigarette smoke.

Tiny particles are potentially dangerous because they can be too small ever to settle to the bottom of a well, nor can they be controlled using conventional water filtration systems. Heather Gingerich, a medical geologist based in Ingersoll, says the acidic atmosphere in the stomach can break down the binding between a clay-based shale particle and any heavy metals attached, allowing the metals to settle in other areas of the body rather than to pass through our digestive system.

“What is actually happening out there as best as I can put together,” Clarke says, “is that there are vibrations that are happening down around the 20-metre level, where the top of the shale is taking place.”

The vibrations — from pile driving, and later, from the turbines’ operation — create waves like the ripples that fan out in water when people throw rocks into a pond. When the waves from different turbines intersect, they can either cancel each other out, he says — or amplify the effect.

“If you have a well at that intersection where waves are really reinforcing each other,” it means the shale at the base of the well is being shaken as hard as it would be in an earthquake. That kicks up the particles, and you’re “going to see your water go a [dark] colour.”

The water: ‘certainly unappealing,’ but is it dangerous?
Pattern Development, which is developing the farm with Samsung Renewable Energy, defends the preparatory research on the project. Jody Law, a Pattern project developer, says the environmental assessment to obtain the renewable energy approval was rigorous. The developer monitored wells and vibrations during the construction phase, which Law says is a new requirement from the ministry. Sensors were used to monitor vibrations on some (but not all) turbine locations as they were being planted into the ground.

The developer inspected all of the complaints it received (16, according to North Kent Wind’s website), and has determined pile driving isn’t to blame for any problems local residents are having with their well water.

This month, the ministry supported those conclusions — and also declared the water was safe to drink despite the sediment. “Water containing fine particles could appear cloudy — or turbid,” a ministry representative wrote in a Feb. 1 letter to Paul and Jessica Brooks, the property owners with the especially high black shale particle counts. “Turbid water is certainly unappealing but according to the Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health, in the absence of bacterial contamination there is no health hazard from undissolved particles in water.”

The Council of Canadians has backed the local grassroots group in its fight to raise awareness about its concerns. Mark Calzavara, the Ontario regional organizer, says that given the evidence that suggests there’s a problem with wind farms in Chatham-Kent, the environment ministry should do its own testing. Instead, it has chosen to take the word of developers’ hydrology consultants that the vibrations aren’t harmful.

“It’s clear that they’ve just decided to sacrifice these communities. Whoever has their water damage, tough luck.”

In an email responding to TVO’s written questions, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change responds in part: “The ministry takes concerns about groundwater quality very seriously and we are actively holding the company accountable for addressing complaints related to changes in well water quality and/or quantity.”

Jakubec says there are ways to fix the problem — if the group can ever convince the ministry the vibration issue exists. Adding dampeners to problem towers is one way, or, once a well is affected, specialized filtration equipment that can handle small particles could be installed.

For Lusk, a solution can’t come soon enough.

Three days after his water disappeared, North Kent Wind’s developers began supplying him with huge water containers of non-potable water and jugs of drinkable water. Law says that Pattern has been delivering the water to other residents who have complained about well water quality since construction began. They’re being good neighbours, he says.

After the ministry sent its letter to the Brooks, however, Pattern announced it would stop the water deliveries.

Water Wells First will seek an injunction to prevent North Kent Wind’s developers from removing the temporary water tanks. It’s also seeking a judicial review of the ministry’s decision that the wind turbine construction did not damage area wells.

As well, the group wants the Ontario Ministry of Health to conduct a health hazard study, and the NDP is joining that call.

Water Wells First’s protests over the past several months have included a sit-in and road blockade, and Jakubec hints there will be more action to come. “We’re not going quietly into the night, as the Premier is hoping for.”
TVO

Here’s some the wind industry prepared earlier.

 

When an article about what wind farm neighbours are forced to tolerate (as a raft of incontrovertible facts) is peppered with the word ‘concerns’, you know you’re reading wind industry backed propaganda, rather than news.

And Mary Baxter might want to update the claim that her government ‘debunked’ the relationship between health effects and exposure to low-frequency wind turbine noise. Precisely the same kind of evidence that you’ll hear from Ontario’s long-suffering wind farm neighbours was presented by the Waubra Foundation to Australia’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

The AAT held that the “noise annoyance” caused by wind turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound “is a plausible pathway to disease” based on the “established association between noise annoyance and some diseases, including hypertension and cardiovascular disease, possibly mediated in part by disturbed sleep and/or psychological stress/distress.” The AAT also slammed wind turbine noise standards as irrelevant and, therefore, totally unfit for purpose: Australian Court Finds Wind Turbine Noise Exposure a ‘Pathway to Disease’: Waubra Foundation Vindicated

Like incessant low-frequency noise, filthy, muddy, contaminated water isn’t a ‘concern’; it’s a fact.

Downplaying the consequences doesn’t change that. Pretending that it’s no big deal, that the filthy muck wouldn’t hurt a fly and that it wasn’t the developer’s fault, anyway, doesn’t suggest journalistic balance, it evidences starry-eyed bias.

The odds are stacked against the good folk in Chatham-Kent, not least because they’re outnumbered and outgunned by the forces that stand with the very wind power outfits that are wrecking their water supplies. Lazy journalists don’t help matters.

Pay a consultant enough, and he’ll say anything. Grease the palms of officials and regulators, who are paid up members of the wind cult anyway, and you will soon be found not guilty, for even the most outrageous environmental destruction and unlawful incursions against property rights, public health and safety.

At this point the wind cultist starts ranting about the damage done by ‘evil’ fossil fuel companies. However, coal miners, oil and gas drillers don’t run around pretending to be on a par with Mother Teresa. Moreover, when BHP, BP or Exxon make a mess, governments side with the victims and extract fulsome compensation for the damage done. Not so, with the likes of NextEra and AGL, who wreak havoc with impunity.

The wind industry is peopled with sociopaths ready to justify every form of misery that their subsidy-soaked business delivers to locals. Their faux ‘green’ piety just makes them monstrous hypocrites, as well.

Whether it’s destroying the ability to sleep, live in and otherwise enjoy rural homes; whether it’s starting bushfires that destroy homes, livestock and property; destroying sacred battlefield graveyards in France; or whether it’s turning once potable water to undrinkable sludge, this is an industry that knows no moral decency or shame.

And that’s a fact.

Sure, it’s fit to drink. Just ask a wind developer and his consultant.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. These “health inspectors” should do some research into what has happened in China with their wind turbines on vast areas of the countryside. Many people’s health have been impacted. Whole communities have needed to relocate and YES, their water has been poisoned by the wind turbine industry.

  2. Thank you STT for once again telling everyone what’s still happening in rural Ontario under this government.
    Add to this litany of horrible realities rural people in Ontario who have had these turbines assaulting their environment are facing, is the fact that every single night they have to deal with the piercing red lights flashing on and off every few seconds. Rural communities now look like alien industrial zones. The wind companies could all be forced to change those red flashing lights to a laser system, so that they would only turn on if a low flying airplane approached. are an extremely rare occurrence, so if this change was forced on all of the wind companies, those red lights would almost never be on.
    Residents have become exhausted with their efforts to seek protection from all who are responsible for the harm. They’ve reached dangerous levels of despair. Persisting with the pressure it would take to bring about the end of these ridiculous red flashing lights is more than they can handle.
    ” Lazy journalists don’t help matters.” This needs to be repeated again and again and again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: