Well Owners, MPP Demand Public Health Investigate Water

Water Wells First spokesperson Kevin Jakubec posing with Paul Brooks at 9597 Brook Line. January 23, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Cowan Blackburn News Chatham-Kent).

Water Wells First and a local MPP are demanding that public health opens up an investigation now that families near the North Kent Wind project must go back to drinking from their “visibly polluted” wells.

Spokesman Kevin Jakubec says the activist group received a report from the Ministry of Environment (MOE) on Thursday that says recent laboratory testing at the home of Paul and Jessica Brooks at 9597 Brook Line in Dresden, which is near the North Kent Wind project, clearly shows that well water conditions have deteriorated.

These reports were sent after Water Wells First sent laboratory tests to the ministry that revealed a 14,000 fold increase in black shale particles since construction started on the wind farm north of Chatham, which is a joint venture between North-Kent Wind, Samsung, and Pattern Energy.

The MOE findings that were sent to Paul and Jessica Brooks, including the cover letter and the final package, are available online.

“They cited unknown factors to be the cause and yet offered no explanation to the area effect that was seen,” says Jakubec. “We have an area where a cluster of wells all started to release black shale sediment in a very short matter of time and the common element was the pile driving.”

Jakubec says because the MOE is releasing Samsung and Pattern Energy of responsibilities under the North Kent Wind permit, families will no longer be supplied with water tanks that were provided to them. He says families have now been told by the MOE that they can start drinking their well water again.

“The well is heavily polluted with black shale, we’ve confirmed that with an independent laboratory, and yet the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change has taken the position that the people can go back onto their wells that are visibly polluted,” says Jakubec.

Jakubec says Jessica Brooks received a couriered letter from Pattern Energy on Monday, telling her that the company will be removing the water tanks and reconnecting the well. He says the Brooks family is absolutely devastated.

“Even with the filters they have in, the water is so laced with these black shale particles, not even five minutes of water flow can go through their filters,” explains Jakubec. “If they take the filters out and let that water go through their house, they would have all this black shale going into their washing machine to do laundry, it’d be clogging their shower… it’d be coming out into the sink… you’d have bedrock in your food.”

Jakubec says families like the Brooks have no idea what to do. Jakubec says there has been no direction from the MOE as to how these families will get clean water.

“It’s alarming to see the ministry has simply dropped its responsibility,” he says.

Jakubec says it is now up to public health to determine whether the water is safe to drink.

“That means that public health now has to do a health hazard investigation before those families start using that water again. That has now come to the forefront and the NDP party has stepped in and they see that,” he says.

The NDP sent a news release to BlackburnNewsCK.com on Monday stating that Essex MPP Taras Natyshak sent a letter to the MOE and the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care calling on them to take these community concerns seriously and conduct an intensive health hazard investigation alongside the local medical officer of health.

“The Ontario NDP believes that water is a public trust,” says Natyshak. “We have called for a Provincial Water Strategy that would ensure that government policy puts the public interest first, ahead of commercial interests that threaten the public’s access to clean and safe drinking water.”

Ministry spokesperson Gary Wheeler told BlackburnNewsCK.com on Monday that the ministry takes concerns about groundwater very seriously.

“Ministry staff are finalizing their review of the information that will be provided to each complainant regarding the outcome of the ministry’s assessment of their complaint, including groundwater and vibration monitoring results,” says Wheeler. “Ministry staff are also providing information on historical groundwater water quality in the area, and best practices for proper well maintenance.”

Wheeler says the ministry will continue to provide reports to complainants over the next few weeks as additional reviews are completed.

“Our analysis is showing there is no evidence of any ongoing or permanent impact to water quality related to off-site pile driving activities,” he says.

Wheeler adds that many water samples have results that are consistent with what is already known about the groundwater quality in the region. He says, according to the Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health, there is no health hazard from the undissolved particles of water that may cause well water to appear cloudy or turbid.