The partial sinking of a barge that was to be used in the construction of the Amherst Island wind energy project is reason enough to stop the project, a Prince Edward County environmental group says.
In a letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Anne Dumbrille, president of the County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy, wrote that the partial sinking of the barge on March 24 threatened the drinking water supply.
“The recent sinking of a barge leased in order to ship aggregate to Amherst Island for the wind turbine project, with the associated drinking water emergency in Prince Edward County, was the first that we citizens, as well as the councillors of Prince Edward County, have been made aware that the Picton Terminals were involved in this activity,” Dumbrille wrote.
The barge’s partial sinking prompted a state of water emergency in PEC, including a cautionary boil water advisory for residents using the Picton-Bloomfield drinking water system, the establishment of a bulk water dispensing station in Wellington for residents and a temporary shutdown of the Picton-Bloomfield drinking water plant.
The Canadian Coast Guard stated that less than 30 litres of residual oil were spilled from the barge, which was empty at the time of the incident.
The Coast Guard also said a sheen, believed to be diesel fuel and hydraulic fluid, could been seen on the water and ice near the barge.
The barge was refloated on the weekend, and municipal officials said no contaminants entered the drinking water system.
Dumbrille wrote that the use of the Picton Terminals and adjacent roads were not outlined in the Amherst project renewable energy agreement (REA), nor is there any description of material being moved by barge from Picton to the island.
“None of the barge traffic of aggregate from the county to Amherst Island is mentioned or contemplated in the permit for the wind factory on Amherst Island,” she wrote.
Dumbrille noted that the route from Picton to Amherst Island passes the Glenora ferry crossing.
“There is no mention of driving materials/components related to the turbine project to or through Prince Edward County, or shipping from Picton Terminals,” Dumbrille wrote. “There was no description of use of an ‘Aggregate Transfer Vessel.’ No environmental studies have been undertaken. There was no Marine Logistics Plan as required by the REA until rushed efforts after the spill.”
On Friday evening, the company building the wind energy project, Windlectric Inc., tweeted a statement about the sinking.
“The recent sinking of the Pitts Carillon barge at Picton Terminals is very unfortunate. The barge was being prepared for use at the Amherst Island Wind Project, but was outside the project’s boundary at the time of the event,” the statement read. It then directed readers to the Canadian Coast Guard website.