Justice Prevails: Wind Developers Charged Over Water Wells Contaminated with Toxic Sludge

Ontario’s farmers, furious about the toxic sludge coming out of their wells, have finally got the wind power outfits causing it charged with a raft of offences under the Environment Protection Act.

Pile-driving and the excavations required for 400m³ of steel reinforced concrete for the hundreds of turbine bases across Chatham-Kent are the only new and intervening factor capable of turning (hitherto potable) underground water a silty black.

Pundits have predicted that the next major war will be sparked over water. In Ontario just such a battle is (pardon the pun) well underway.

STT has reported on the destruction of underground water supplies in Chatham-Kent a number of times, including this post: Ontario: Water, Water Everywhere – But Thanks to Wind Turbines – Not A Drop to Drink

Locals are furious, not just at the fact that once pristine water supplies have been turned to toxic sludge, they are wild at the way wind power outfits and their pet consultants keep lying about the cause.

The first article provides a detailed background on just what locals have had to suffer at the hands of wind developers in Chatham-Kent. In a case of all’s well that ends well, the articles that follow detail the path to the prosecution of those responsible.

Province makes good on promise to investigate water wells
Chatham Voice
24 July 2019

Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP and Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton on Friday brought long-awaited news of a health hazard investigation into Chatham-Kent water wells contaminated with black sediment, acting on a promise made a year ago by Premier Doug Ford. McNaughton was joined by Chatham-Kent Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls, right, and Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey.

A year after making a campaign-trail promise to contaminated water well owners in north Chatham-Kent, the Ontario PC government announced a health hazard investigation into the black water and its potential health impact.

Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP and Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton made the announcement from Countryview Golf Course Friday afternoon to a few invited families whose wells were filled with black sediment after wind turbine construction began in Dover and Chatham townships. The black particles have been identified as Kettle Point Black Shale and are known to contain toxic heavy metals.

“This is a comprehensive investigation into the water well situation here in Chatham-Kent. This is an independent expert panel assembled that is going to operate outside of government. These are five scientists who have the background to do that, including a local voice with local geologist Keith Benn and four toxicologists,” McNaughton said at the press conference. “This will be an in-depth investigation that will lead to real results that people can trust.”

The MPP said the panel will take a fresh look at water samples collected from the wells of families who have complained of black water and “samples from up to 189 private wells will be taken by a third-party business and tested by a commercial laboratory.”

“We’ve heard concerns raised by families for years and years. The former government completely ignored this situation. I remember, a few years ago, delivering to the then Minister of the Environment, a bottle of dirty water, and they ignored it,” McNaughton added.

Jim and Angela Leveille of Chatham township, whose brand new well became clogged with sediment when the North Kent Wind turbine project went online, said they have spent thousands of dollars on testing their well water, water tanks and buying water, and have run out of patience and faith in all levels of government.

“This is great. I hope it does some good, but of course I don’t have any faith in anybody because how long have we been going through this, and the other people? Years,” Jim noted.

He said he was speaking with a man who lives close to him who has three filters on his well that he changes every other day because they are black and he can’t keep doing that, so he’s buying a water tank just to have water to bathe and cook with.

“This was just last week. They (wells) are dropping every day. There are people who don’t tell anyone their water is bad for whatever reason. They may think its 189 wells but it’s way more than that,” Jim said.

When asked what they hoped would come of the investigation, Angela was very specific in her wishes.

“I’ll tell you what I want: I want accountability, I want an admission, I want it to not happen to other communities like up in North Stormont. I don’t want anyone else to go through this. I want people to believe what we’re saying,” Angela said.

Jim added he wondered what good the Ministry of the Environment was if it doesn’t do anything when the environment is “wrecked.” The Leveilles have been waiting months for the report on their well done by an agent of the wind company to be released from June of 2018. Angela said she had to file a Freedom of Information request to get a copy of the report from the ministry.

The five-member panel doing the investigation is tasked with determining if the well water and the sediment it contains are safe for human consumption. Members include local geologist Dr. Keith Benn, environmental health scientist Dr. Glenn Ferguson, epidemiologist Dr. Shelley A. Harris who specializes in exposure measurement, toxicologist Dr. Ron Brecher and toxicologist Mark Chappel.

Denise Shephard, representing Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns, said she was thankful the government was acting on its principle of safe drinking water for all Ontarians and thanked McNaughton for following through on his promise.

“This study is expected to ensure that chemical analysis of the composition of the black shale particles in the well water is done and reported in a public manner. We will be closely following the studies to ensure its legitimacy and standards,” Shephard said in her remarks. “The people of the former Dover and Chatham townships have experienced groundwater quality and water interference problems quite long enough. These families have sadly experienced health effects and a decrease in their quality of life and deserve the support of municipal, provincial and federal governments.”

There was no timeline given for the how long the panel will take to release a final report.
Chatham Voice

Ontario ministry, minister & wind companies charged for failing to prevent tainted well water
Blackburn News
Kirk Dickson
26 July 2019

Years of tainted, undrinkable well water in Chatham-Kent has led to several environmental charges being laid against a provincial ministry, its minister, and three industrial wind companies operating within the municipality.

An Ontario Justice of the Peace has determined on July 12 that there are reasonable and probable grounds to lay charges under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) against Jeff Yurek, Ontario’s minister of the environment, the Environment Ministry and the three industrial wind companies — Pattern Energy Group, Samsung Renewable Energy Inc. and Engie Canada Inc. The three companies operate the North Kent 1 Wind Farm and East Lake St. Clair Wind Farm in CK.

According to court documents, the three companies are charged under the EPA with “unlawfully discharging contaminants, including black shale and potentially hazardous metals into the natural environment in an unlawful manner that caused or is likely to cause an adverse effect.”

Both Yurek and the Ministry of the Environment have been charged for allegedly “failing to take all reasonable care to prevent the installation and operation of the wind turbines” at the two wind farms, which resulted in the well water contamination.

In 2017, laboratory tests results were submitted to the ministry by Water Wells First after revealing a 14,000 times increase in black shale particles in at least one local water well since construction started on the wind farm north of Chatham.

Christine Burke, one of several Chatham-Kent residents who have been plagued with well water issues for years, was named as a witness in court documents and submitted evidence under oath to the Justice of the Peace, which led to the provincial charges.

In documents submitted to the Ontario court, Burke said she has been living in her Dover Centre home for 36 years with her husband. She said the wells at her fourth-generation home provided pristine, unfiltered, crystal clear, safe drinking water until construction began.

“When the pile driving and construction of the wind turbines started on our shallow aquifer, our drinking water slowly turned black and is now unsafe to consume, cook with or even bathe in,” she told the court. “This issue continues today and has turned our lives upside down and we are not the only family affected by this devastation.”

Eric Gillespie, a Toronto-based lawyer, who represents Burke and complainants who have been experiencing problems with their water wells, said the five parties are scheduled to appear in a Blenheim courtroom on August 14. He said evidence will be disclosed and each party will be asked to enter a plea.

“If there’s a guilty plea, then we’ll be discussing sentencing,” said Gillespie. “If there’s a not guilty plea, then we would be starting to move towards trial.”

Dave Taylor, the Municipality of Chatham Kent’s lawyer, said he would not be providing further comment on the case.

“In response to media reports of legal proceedings regarding operation of wind turbines in Chatham-Kent, the municipality will not be making comments on the issue as the matter is before the courts,” said Taylor.

In an email to Blackburn News, Andrew Buttigieg, Yurek’s press secretary, said there will not be a statement on the pending charges.

“As this matter is before the courts it would be inappropriate to comment,” Buttigieg said.

The Ontario government just announced last week that it would be launching a health hazard investigation on roughly 200 privately-owned water wells across Chatham-Kent.
Blackburn News

Province, wind turbine companies charged under Environmental Protection Act
CBC News
26 July 2019

There are reasonable and probable grounds to believe environmental offences have been committed

The Ontario Court of Justice has determined there are “reasonable and probable grounds” to believe environmental offences have been committed by Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, ministry staff and three industrial wind companies in Chatham-Kent.

According to court documents, the charges come from the Environmental Protection Act.

Eric Gillespie, a Toronto-based lawyer, represents complainants who have been experiencing problems with their water wells.

“When somebody believes there has been an offence committed, they can go directly to the courts,” said Gillespie. “One local resident went last week before a justice of the peace, who heard information and formed the opinion that there were grounds to believe offences had been committed.”

One witness called to court is Christine Burke, who spoke to CBC in February 2018 about the problems with her water well.

Burke was not permitted to speak to CBC now that she’s named as a witness in the court proceedings.

As a result, the summons to appear in court were issued to the Ministry of Environment, the minister of the environment and the three companies.

According to court documents and Gillespie, the charges are for ongoing actions since 2017.

In one, Jeff Yurek, minister of the environment, is named as failing to “take all reasonable care to prevent the installation and operation of the wind turbines at East Lake St. Clair Wind Farm, run by Engie Canada and at the North Kent 1 Wind Farm run by Pattern Energy Group and Samsung Renewable Energy from discharging or causing or permitting the discharge of contaminants.”

Those contaminants include black shale and potentially hazardous metals.

Gillespie said should the defendants be found or plead guilty, penalties range from financial fines up to $100,000 or periods of incarceration.

“The court also has many other options available to it in terms of the types of orders,” said Gillespie, who believes these charges are the first of their nature.

CBC News reached out to the companies and the ministry of the environment but did not receive responses.

Yurek’s press secretary issued a statement on his behalf, declining to comment “as this matter is before the courts.”

The companies and the ministry will appear in court in Blenheim on August 14.

Gillespie said should the defendants be found or plead guilty, penalties range from financial fines up to $100,000 or periods of incarceration.

“The court also has many other options available to it in terms of the types of orders,” said Gillespie, who believes these charges are the first of their nature.

CBC News reached out to the companies and the ministry of the environment but did not receive responses.

Yurek’s press secretary issued a statement on his behalf, declining to comment “as this matter is before the courts.”

The companies and the ministry will appear in court in Blenheim on August 14.
CBC News

Province, turbine firms face EPA charges
Chatham Voice
30 July 2019

After years of dirty, undrinkable water, a Chatham-Kent woman will get her day in court after bringing her complaint about wind farms turbines contaminating her well water to a Justice of the Peace.

According to previously published media reports, on July 12 an Ontario Justice of the Peace determined there are “reasonable and probable grounds” to bring charges under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) against Ontario Environment Minister Jeff Yurek, the Ministry of the Environment and three industrial wind companies with projects in Chatham-Kent — Pattern Energy Group, Samsung Renewable Energy Inc., who operate the North Kent Wind 1 and 2 projects in the former Dover and Chatham townships, and Engie Canada Inc. which operates the East St. Clair wind farm.

Christine Burke, a well owner in the East St. Clair wind farm project area, brought the complaint to the courts and is called as a witness so was unable to comment on the matter.

According to court documents obtained by the media, the three respondent companies are charged under the EPA with “unlawfully discharging contaminants, including black shale and potentially hazardous metals into the natural environment in an unlawful manner that caused, or is likely to cause, an adverse effect.”

Both the Ministry of the Environment and the minister have been charged for allegedly “failing to take all reasonable care to prevent the installation and operation of the wind turbines” at the wind farms, which resulted in the well water contamination.

According to Burke’s lawyer, Eric Gillespie, any person residing in the province can launch a private prosecution by appearing before a justice of the peace and swearing under oath about an alleged violation of the law, including offences under the EPA. The justice of the peace must then determine if there are “reasonable and probable grounds” that offences may have been committed.

In a story reported previously in The Chatham Voice, a recorded conversation between Burke in the East St. Clair wind farm project area and the director of operations for the wind farm company, the official admitted wells were contaminated by turbidity during pile driving, and owners were given filtration systems to fix the problem.

Burke, a well owner who has had black water issues since the East St. Clair turbines were constructed in 2012, called GDF Suez director of operations Augusto Di Maria in August 2017 to ask for help with her well issue. In the 30-minute conversation, Burke asked Di Maria if he was aware of well issues. He replied he was aware of issues in the pile driving phase of construction that was making the well water of “six to eight well owners, maybe more” murky.

“When you’re breaking through the earth, that’s a lot of force, I can understand that,” Di Maria said regarding why wells might go turbid during pile driving. “I did see well issues when we punched the piles through the earth, at that point in time there was a disturbance and that makes sense.”

Di Maria went on to say that the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), as well as the Municipality of Chatham-Kent were informed of the well complaints back in 2012.

The province, the wind companies, the municipality and Water Wells First have all declined to comment while the matter is before the courts.

The court date to hear the matter is set for Aug. 14 in the Ontario Court of Justice location on Communication Road just south of Highway 401.
Chatham Voice

All’s well, that ends well…

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on ECO-ENERGY DATABASE and commented:
    ..And about time. Sadly water pollution from wind turbines affecting water courses and ground water is a little known hazard to health in many countries. Especially the UK….extra especially Scotland & Wales.

  2. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  3. According to the information in these media reports, the announcement by the Ontario government that they would be moving forward with an investigation came AFTER the July 12 decision of the court to lay charges.

    The politicians claim credit for following through on an election promise and empathizing with the people. However the victims, already stressed and depleted, had to go to extreme measures, hire a lawyer and initiate criminal prosecution against the Minister & others BEFORE the politicians did publicly commit to the investigation.

  4. Charles Wardrop says:

    Much more convincing than the ? evidence against fracking, an honest use of our natural resources which is much greener as well as useful than the hopeless, toxic, near-fraudulent wind turbines.

  5. J Smythe says:
  6. Reblogged this on Climate- Science.

  7. Son of a goat says:

    Shock! Horror! The Australian wind industry laments, “We are in more trouble than Yoda Yates at a Bar mitzvah.”

    It was the high priest of the zealots in Bob Brown who recently highlighted the slaughter of birds of prey by wind turbines.
    However revenge may be theirs as in an euphemistic sense, as one feels that the birds of prey are now circling the Australian wind industry, if today’s action by the Australian Energy Regulator is anything to go by.

    With compliance issues, grid constraints and noise complaints and falling REC prices the rent seekers are carrying on like a mob of scalded banshees.

    Speaking of juvenile behaviour Yoda Yates who stood as an independent for Kooyong in the recent election has been getting coverage lately that would rival Greta Thundberg. Yoda has been busy disassociating himself with actions by a Kooyong resident taking Frydenberg to court over his eligibility to stand.

    In a non surprising move Yoda’s pet caboodle named Peanut has announced he is disassociating himself from Yoda. In a full sized, front page article in the local doggy paper “Hounds of Kooyong” Peanut says he’s had a gutful of Yoda’s behaviour and his climate change crap.

    “After he came back from Lake Como I thought he may have blown off a bit of steam, but no such luck. He thought victory was his after the Hawthorn candidate’s forum but now he just gets heckled with taunts of “Mr 9%,” as an ex banker he takes this as a real kick in the guts.”

    “He has formed a Kooyong Independents Group, a gathering of pretentious like minded zealots who rollup to meetings in Beamers, Mercs and Rollers wanting further activism on climate change.”

    In retaliation Peanut has formed his own protest group known as the “Dogs of war” where he invites like minded pooches to piss on the wheels of their enlightened owners cars. He later added, gnawing at the legs of your owner’s Armani suit is cathartic.

    Yoda was unavailable for comment.

    • Bill Quinn says:

      Love your work SOAG. Please keep your highly entertaining post coming.

      • Son of a goat says:

        Cheers Bill, the zealots are truly the gift that keep on giving.

        At this very moment, Yoda is holding the first meeting of the Kooyong Independents Group at a restaurant in Camberwell.

        Alas sadly for Yoda, the advertised guest speakers in Cathy McGowan and Julia Banks have done a runner.
        They probably got the whisper that Peanut and the Dogs of War would be patrolling the car park of Georges restaurant.

        All is not lost however, news is filtering through that guests are being entertained by the Renewable Energy Messiah who has taken on the persona of Bertie Higgins and is performing a moving rendition of his hit song “Key Largo”.

      • Pure gold! That’s what STT calls Champagne Comedy.

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 )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: