The Otter Creek wind farm proposed for north of Wallaceburg will begin installing and testing piles at three turbine locations starting next week.
The pile testing makes residents in the Wallaceburg area nervous because many people believe pile-driving vibration in other areas in Chatham-Kent during wind turbine construction has led to a large number of water wells becoming black with turbid water and contaminated with heavy metals.
Pile testing is set to take place outside of Wallaceburg at three different locations, Otter Creek Wind Farm officials confirmed Friday.
Adam Rosso, director of project development for the Otter Creek Wind Farm project, said the testing piles will start Monday and likely take place over the next week.
An engineering firm will perform the tests, which will provide information about the soil below the turbine, as well as how those soils react to foundation design.
Residents who live near the test-piling sites received a letter notifying them of the proposed work.
The letter said pile driving is an important step because it helps the wind turbine company understand the ground characteristics needed to design the foundation for the wind turbines.
With additional equipment at the proposed locations, residents knew that work was about to commence, and there are many who are concerned about how the pile driving will affect the quality of their water. Many are worried about potential health concerns related to the Kettle Creek black shale bedrock in the area.
Kevin Jakubec, spokesperson for Water Wells First, asked the Environment Ministry in an email Thursday to not allow the testing. He said the ministry should not allow any pile driving, even for test purposes, until the ministry has reviewed studies performed by Water Wells First about particle size distribution. The studies show black shale particles are dominant in the polluting sediments and are difficult to filter.
Jakubec wants the Environment Ministry to monitor the tests.
Otter Creek will consist of 12 turbines and is a partnership between RES Canada, Boralex Inc. and Walpole Island First Nation.
Rosso said anyone with concerns can visit their website or give them a phone call.
“Ultimately, we want the project to be safe and safe for everybody and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” said Rosso.