While Calvin Simmons has plenty to be thankful about, clean water for his family was not one of those things this Thanksgiving.
Simmons is a resident of Greenvalley Line north of Chatham for the past 47 years who filed a well complaint recently with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) after his well became clogged with sediment at the end of August. He said his well problem began shortly after pile driving for construction of a wind turbine in the North Kent 1 wind farm project area started nearby.
A member of Water Wells First, Simmons said he asked WWF spokesperson Kevin Jakubec to be present when the MOECC came to test his well. He was told, however, by MOECC employee Deb Jacobs that they would not come to test his water if any protestors, WWF members or Jakubec was with him at his home. He has not had a water tank delivered from the wind farm company yet, as per the REA permit if a well complaint is made, meaning he has to live on bottled water for his wife and three teen children.
“For Calvin Simmons, what kind of Thanksgiving is he and his family going to have?” Jakubec said.
Jakubec said the baseline testing for Simmons shows his well turbidity at 1.64 NTUs, well below the 5 NTU national drinking water standard.
Showing the state of his water immediately after AECOM took their water samples, Simmons sample shows what looks like sand with black particles at the bottom of the pail.
“What you can see, you know you are getting something. It’s what you can’t see in that water is the poison you are drinking and it’s killing our kids, family, our neighbours, our pets,” Simmons said. “Everybody here today has a problem; they (MOECC) are closing their eyes and not seeing what’s out there. They all need to be fired and new people put in because they are not doing their jobs.”
Jakubec and WWF has been fighting for well owners with contaminated wells from Dover and now North Kent for over a year now, and he said tensions with the affected families continue to rise.
“There is a common villain here and it is the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. They have gone from insisting they have to follow the parameters of the REA and not test the sediment, now they have flip-flopped and have started testing heavy metals in black shale,” Jakubec said. “But they are not testing the proper scientific way with a pure black shale sample from a reference library with an acid digestion test that would show heavy metals in the shale sample.
“We are going to bring as much public pressure on the MOECC as possible.
“Every week more people are coming forward; it’s just building and building and we are building up the number of people that are potential class action participants,” Jakubec noted. “There are 18 with the people in Dover. It was the winter of 2016 that the MOECC was at Laurier (Cartier’s) place and said they’d come back and test and they still haven’t come back.”
The Brooks family on Brook Line have been waiting two months for the MOECC assessment of their well water testing, after conflicting results from AECOM, hired by North Kent 1 wind farm, and MOECC tests on the same well. From baseline testing to MOECC tests after pile driving began near their farm, the turbidity of the Brooks well increased 30 times the original level.
Many other families are in the same boat, waiting for the MOECC assessment of the AECOM testing. In the memorandum from AECOM, Jakubec said the baseline testing done by Bill Clarke, a local well expert, is not even acknowledged.
Jakubec still isn’t sure why the MOECC won’t come to a property and do their job while he is there. There have been no confrontations, physical or otherwise, he said with MOECC or AECOM staff.
“I wouldn’t argue. I would get into a good scientific debate. I’ve been nothing but respectful,” Jakubec said.
He also said the claim from Pattern Energy and Samsung officials that WWF members vandalized a crane or broke a truck window are false and no charges have been laid against any WWF members.