Turbines continue to pop up in Chatham-Kent, most recently as part of the North Kent Wind 1 project.
In a recorded conversation between a well owner in the East St. Clair wind farm project area and the director of operations for the wind farm company, the official admitted wells were contaminated by turbidity during pile driving, and owners were given filtration systems to fix the problem.
Christine Burke, a well owner who has had black water issues since the East St. Clair turbines were constructed in 2012, called GDF Suez director of operations Augusto Di Maria on Aug. 18 to ask for help with her well issue. In the 30-minute conversation, Burke asked Di Maria if he was aware of well issues. He replied he was aware of issues in the pile driving phase of construction that was making the well water of “six to eight well owners, maybe more” murky.
“When you’re breaking through the earth, that’s a lot of force, I can understand that,” Di Maria said regarding why wells might go turbid during pile driving. “I did see well issues when we punched the piles through the earth, at that point in time there was a disturbance and that makes sense.”
Di Maria goes on to say that the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), as well as the Municipality of Chatham-Kent were informed of the well complaints back in 2012, and named the municipal contact he made aware of the complaints – Pat Bruette, director of public works at that time.
“We’ve had people reach out to the municipality; the municipality said, ‘Hey we got a complaint in the area can you go and take a look at it?’” Di Maria said.
He added that he spoke with Bruette as long ago as a year to discuss “some concerns” about the East St. Clair project.
Kevin Jakubec, Water Wells First spokesperson, who was given a copy of the conversation, said Di Maria’s comments prove both the MOECC and the municipality knew about pile-driving causing turbidity in wells in the East St. Clair project.
In a letter to Teri Gilbert, issues manager for the MOECC, Jakubec asked why the MOECC issued an REA permit to allow North Kent Wind to go ahead when they knew pile driving caused problems in the East St. Clair project to at least eight wells.
“Teri, it appears the MOECC and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent will both find themselves in civil lawsuits shortly if the North Kent Wind project isn’t immediately halted and a full investigation to determine the extent of the well damage in North Chatham-Kent is determined and proper effective remediation methods are sought to ensure the safety and reliability of the ground water for all families dependent on this water source,” Jakubec said in his e-mail.
He also calls out councilors and Mayor Hope who are only now asking the MOECC to investigate, when they knew all along pile driving has caused turbidity in at least one other project. East Kent Coun. Leon Leclair, at a press conference last week, said he is now concerned because “one well going bad was a fluke,” but with the four more in East Kent reporting turbidity, he was now convinced there was enough to look into.
Jakubec said council and municipal legal counsel John Norton did not do their due diligence and ignored concerns in East St. Clair when investing $8 million into North Kent Wind.