• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Chatham family finds huge change in water quality following wind turbine construction

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In Energy
Jan 23rd, 2018
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Jessica Brooks

 

Jessica Brooks

The Chatham Voice

A Chatham couple whose family has been without clean well water since wind turbine construction began more than six months ago is coming forward with test results that show just how contaminated their well is.

RTI Lab testing reveals a 14,000-times increase in Kettle Point Black Shale particles, with the majority of the micro particles under one micron in size. The baseline sample from RTI shows particles of the shale go from 47 particles per millilitre of water to 681,939 counts/mL.

The results of the lab testing also shows that the particles in the water include iron rich particles, silicon (sand) particles and calcium rich particles in addition to the black shale. Total count of particles per mL go from 16,987 to 1,408,393, proving the drastic increase in turbidity of the water after pile driving began.

Paul and Jessica Brooks of Brook Line in the former Chatham township took advice from Water Wells First after water wells started showing up in the former Dover township contaminated with black particles over a year ago. They did their own baseline testing by an accredited hydrogeologist before construction began in July for the North Kent Wind 1 (NKW1) wind farm project.

When their well went down because the pump was clogged with black sediment, testing by AECOM, the company hired by NKW1 to investigate complaints said in its report water flowed freely and the water did not appear cloudy, which contradicted the Brooks results and subsequent Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) results. The ministry is still investigating the discrepancy and other AECOM test results from well complaints in the NKW1 project area.

“We are aiming to communicate the findings of our review directly with the affected well owners over the next few weeks,” ministry spokesperson Gary Wheeler said in an e-mail.

At a public liaison committee meeting held by NKW1 before Christmas, a project update handed out by Pattern Energy and Samsung representatives stated in a section under Complaint Investigation Results that “groundwater quality and quantity issues reported by property owners are not a result of pile driving or construction activities” and that “water quality and quantity conditions were relatively consistent to the baseline data collected prior to construction.”

Water Wells First spokesperson Kevin Jakubec said he doesn’t know how the company can make those statements when there is evidence to the contrary.

He added thanks to baseline testing and the standing electron microscope results from RTI Labs, the Brooks have proof of well contamination and legitimate concerns about their health risks.

“The Brooks have decided to release the results of their particle size distribution testing conducted by RTI Laboratories in Livonia, Mich. in the hope that in coming forward, that they will shed light on an important health risk to our community,” Jakubec said.

Speaking on behalf of the family, he said it is also the hope of the Brooks family that the MOECC will begin clean up efforts to return the groundwater under north Chatham-Kent to pre-wind farm conditions.

WWF would also like to see a health investigation done to determine the effect of ingesting black shale particles on the families with affected wells, as Kettle Point Black Shale is known to contain heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and lead. He said there are no filtration systems that can filter particles under one micron in size that would be available to the general public.

Jakubec said RTI Laboratories is a laboratory with ISO 17025 accreditation to undertake particle size distribution studies.

The NKW1 wind farm project consists of 34 Siemens Energy turbines constructed by RES Canada.

Comment from NKW1 was not available by press time.

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