The new year isn’t bringing any hope for a better situation for 12 families issued water tanks in the North Kent 1 Wind Farm project (NKW1) area north of Chatham.
The recent unseasonably cold weather resulted in water in the tanks and lines being frozen solid, according to Water Wells First (WWF) spokesperson Kevin Jakubec.
At a press conference last week at the home of Jessica and Paul Brooks on Brook Line, the family shared their continued frustration with the lack of action by the wind farm company and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to fix their well, which was contaminated with black sediment back in the summer.
“This morning (Jan. 5) the Brooks family at 9597 Brook Line woke once again without water,” Jakubec said. “It was July 29 when they filed their complaint with the MOECC and the report showed their well had 30 times the turbidity of their baseline testing results before NKW1 started pile driving. They met the burden of proof of contamination.”
“Earlier in the week, the water was frozen solid inside the water tank supplied by Samsung & Pattern. The water tank was part of a requirement on the developers in the North Kent Wind REA Permit issued by the MOECC requiring that water tanks be installed when any impacts occurred to a water well.”
Jakubec said his group, Water Wells First, advocated for months and incurred substantial legal costs to see that measure was put in place to protect families in case their wells experienced the same sediment and flow reduction that happened in the former Dover township.
While the bitter cold hasn’t helped, Jakubec asked why Samsung and Pattern Energy aren’t providing a practical water source for the affected families in this extreme cold, and why are 12 families still on water tanks six months later?
Also, a big question Jakubec said is what has the MOECC been doing to find practical solutions to the loss of so many wells in such a short amount of time in Chatham township and where are the reports they have been promising for months that look at conflicting results from well testing AECOM has done on the affected wells and MOECC testing on the same well?
Spokespersons for the MOECC have said previously they are still working on the report but give no firm timeline and when it will be released.
The lack of action by the province to find out how and why the groundwater is contaminated is also a source of frustration for WWF members.
“This is highly unusual. Brownfields and industrial sites that have contaminated the groundwater beneath them have to go through extensive clean up measures or face severe court fines by the MOECC,” Jakubec noted. “Why does the MOECC not impose those requirements on Samsung and Pattern, the developers of the North Kent Wind farm?”
To try and get answers for themselves, Jakubec said Water Wells First is identifying high tech filtration companies in order to find the technology solutions to try to filter out the extremely small particles of Kettle Point Black Shale, known to contain mercury, arsenic and lead.
“The scanning electron microscope testing that Water Wells First has undertaken over the last six months is showing the majority of black shale particles polluting the well water supply are in the extremely small 0.4 to one micron size. The smaller the particle size, the higher the toxicity it poses.”
Water Wells First will set up a test study to determine the effectiveness of these high-tech filters in removing these extremely small and toxic Black Shale particles and undertake a cost feasibility study to determine if the costs can be affordable.
“Water Wells First will invite the MOECC to participate in the test pilot study. If the MOECC refuses to participate in the test pilot study with us, then the MOECC can only be seen as abandoning its mission of protecting Ontario’s water resources,” Jakubec said. “The Liberal government of Premier Wynne has taught the rural community of Chatham-Kent an important lesson over 2017 that we are the ones that have to take the initiatives, the bureaucracy has failed us.”
Samsung and Pattern representatives have said the construction of the wind farms are not the cause of the well contamination and but will continue to respond to any complaints as per the REA permit conditions.