Councillor says water quality issues 'too much of a coincidence'
Chatham-Kent councillors have approved a motion calling on Ontario's government to stop wind turbine work in the municipality until a deeper investigation into water quality concerns is completed.
The motion comes after reports five water wells near the North Kent Wind project had become clogged with sediment residents claim are caused by pile driving. The government maintains it requires pile driving companies to complete vibration testing and water quality monitoring while work is going on.
"Well water quality testing prior to wind turbine construction shows that turbidity in the wells is associated with naturally occurring groundwater conditions," wrote spokesperson Gary Wheeler in a statement issued after protests by advocacy group Water Wells last week.
But residents, and now the municipal council, are not convinced.
"We don't know what's going on. I think, at best, all we know is that something seems to be going on," said Wallaceburg Coun. Jeff Wesley, who entered the motion for a moratorium on construction until council gets more answers.
"This Council asks the Premier and her Government to halt all wind turbine construction in Chatham-Kent until such time as the problems with water wells has been fully investigated," reads the motion, which asks for a third party expert "not paid by a wind turbine company" to monitor water wells.
The motion also calls for a special report to council about the performance standard well owners can expect as well as the cause and effect of the well issues.
Councillor Leon Leclair stated there is "too much of a coincidence" when it comes to water well issues and also called for a full examination to determine whether the wind project is affecting them, according to a media release from the municipality.
Well users feel 'like guinea pigs'
Council's move follows months of protests from Water Wells First, including a sit-in protest at the Ministry of Environment offices in Windsor and blockades at several turbine construction sites across Chatham-Kent.
"The people here in the community just feel like they're sitting like guinea pigs, waiting to be plucked out and experimented on," said spokesperson Kevin Jakubec, while manning one of the barricades on August 18. "The tensions are boiling over here."
Farmers from Chatham-Kent showed up at the Ministry of Environment offices in June, calling for investigation into water contamination that is shutting down their farms. (Stacey Jazer/CBC)
In a letter sent to minister of environment Chris Ballard last Friday, mayor Randy Hope asked Ontario's government for an "immediate intervention" in the water quality issues due to "conflicting reports" on water quality that created "fear and concern among residents."
"The ministry cannot remain silent on this very important issue," the mayor added. "This is an extremely urgent matter which demands immediate, decisive action from your ministry and government."