Water Wells First protest in front of Chatham-Kent Civic Centre. July 4, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Cowan Blackburn News Chatham-Kent).

Water Well First Accuses MOE Of Collusion

Water Wells First is accusing the Ministry of Environment (MOE) of trying to cover up claims of turbid water with improper testing.

Spokesperson Kevin Jakubec held a public protest Tuesday morning in front of the Chatham-Kent Civic Centre to attract municipal attention to the issue and garner support from Mayor Randy Hope.

“We need our mayor [and] our councillors to put some pressure on the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change… it was very clear that [MOE] has not well thought out the permit for North Kent 1,” said Jakubec.

Water Wells First protest in front of Chatham-Kent Civic Centre. July 4, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Cowan Blackburn News Chatham-Kent).

Water Wells First protest in front of Chatham-Kent Civic Centre. July 4, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Cowan Blackburn News Chatham-Kent).

At a MOE meeting in Windsor last week, Jakubec said the ministry discussed testing 152 wells in North Kent as a baseline measure before installing wind turbines.

According to Jakubec, the ministry claimed at the meeting that one third of wells in North Kent already have poor water quality. However, he pointed out that their tests were only based on turbidity, which basically means the cloudiness of the liquid, rather than actual contamination or bacteria.

“The ministry does not have a clear definition of well interference for this permit. [This] is unheard of because the ministry has required North Kent 1, the proponent, to take tests for baseline,” explained Jakubec.

Jakubec objects to ministry statements that water quality is already poor in North Kent, and added that these tests have not proven anything, but rather are just a strategy to avoid future claims of contamination.

“The Ministry of Environment isn’t looking for the scientific truth, but [they] are trying to shield and protect the profits of the wind company,” claimed Jakubec.

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change spokesperson Gary Wheeler responded to the claims from Water Wells First Tuesday evening and said the ministry “takes concerns about groundwater quality very seriously” and has “taken a cautious, science-based approach when setting standards for renewable energy projects to protect the people of Ontario.”

His response also indicates that “as part the ministry’s science-based approach, North Kent 1 was required to conduct well water quality testing prior to wind turbine construction” and that “the company will continue monitoring for vibrations throughout the duration of the construction phase, as outlined in an approved vibration monitoring plan.”

In a previous interview, MOE district manager Michael Moroney said the ministry doesn’t have enough water contamination evidence at the moment to stop the wind turbines, but once it does it’ll take immediate action.

“What we can do is compare it against Ontario drinking water standards and if there’s a question about safety or a health parameter exceeded, then we would share that with the local health unit and we would tell the residents to speak with the health unit for advice on the safety of the drinking water,” said Moroney.

Water Wells First will be hosting a news conference in front of the Civic Centre Wednesday at around 9am.

-With files from Paul Pedro