The contingent of people who headed to Queen’s Park recently to demand answers about a promised health hazard investigation are disappointed with the government’s response but are not giving up.
Former Water Wells First member Kevin Jakubec went to Toronto with Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and Dover residents Marc and Marilynn St. Pierre to find out when the government was going to get them answers on the toxicity of the well water contaminated by black shale particles, known to contain heavy metals.
Also in attendance was Dr. Joel Gagnon, head of the GLIER heavy metals lab at the University of Windsor.
Natyshak asked Premier Doug Ford when his government was going make good on his promise to call for an “immediate” health hazard investigation into water wells clogged with sediment after construction began on wind turbines in Dover and Chatham township areas.
Minister of Infrastructure and MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex Monte McNaughton responded to the question in the Legislature, saying he was working with the Ministry of Health “very closely” on the issue of a health hazard investigation into the well water situation in Chatham-Kent and information on the matter would be forthcoming.
Natyshak, however, said the government has had a year to get answers for the people living with black shale particles in their well water, and demanded a direct answer.
“I know he’s dodging the question and more importantly, his own community knows he’s dodging the question,” Natyshak said in his rebuttal. “This is about priorities … and this is a government that prioritizes access to beer over access to clean drinking water.”
Jakubec, while no longer a spokesperson for WWF, has continued to work in the background on getting answers to how toxic the black shale particles are to humans, and ways to try and filter out the black shale. As he uncovers more and more research into environmental causes of diseases such as cancer and the direct link to ingestion of heavy metals like arsenic, which is found in black shale, his frustration level with lack of government action is increasing.
“That Monte (McNaughton) dodged the question about the health hazard investigation is particularly upsetting to cancer survivors, who are highly susceptible to getting cancer again,” Jakubec said in an interview. “This can’t be delayed any longer. The report from Public Health Ontario and Cancer Care Ontario is very clear – Ontarians are getting cancer from environmental sources (Environmental Burden of Cancer Report, 2016).”
“Cancer survivors are very upset the Medical Officer of Health (Dr. David Colby) has not taken a more pro-active stance (on toxic black shale) given his Fellowship in Cancer Research (Department of Pathology, University of Western Ontario, 1985-1986),” Jakubec continued. “Cancer survivors expected that a medial officer of health who has cancer research on his resume would have done more for the community.”
Jakubec said they would continue to ask questions about the health hazard investigation into the toxic black shale until the government makes good on its promise.