Taras Natyshak MPP, Essex

Government of Ontario

Wynne Liberals quietly ban pile-driving for new wind turbine project while denying it was the problem with local black well water

Published on April 30, 2018

QUEEN’S PARK – Essex NDP MPP, Taras Natyshak, called on the Wynne Liberals to finally acknowledge that pile-driving poses a risk to local groundwater after learning the government recently banned an area wind turbine project from using the same destructive pile-driving methods. Given the recent ban, Natyshak also called on the government to finally launch an immediate health hazard investigation into the contaminated wells.  

“For months, farmers and residents in the Chatham area have complained about black well water, which starting appearing after Samsung began pile-driving construction for its North Kent wind turbine site,” Natyshak said. “The Premier won’t listen to these families, she refuses to admit there is a problem.”

Reports indicate that well water in over 20 area-farms became contaminated with black shale and heavy metals, all known to be harmful if ingested, following the government's move to allow Samsung to pile-drive in the area. A report released earlier this year by a Hydro One contractor responsible for building the hydro towers that connect to the North Kent wind site, eliminated the use of pile-driving from their own project because of the "possible risk to nearby wells." Shortly after raising the issue in the Legislature last month, the report disappeared from the company's website.

Last month, ministry staff quietly banned pile-driving construction at a new private wind farm in Chatham-Kent.

“The ministry has now banned pile-driving at a new wind site in Chatham-Kent,” Natyshak said. “Ministry staff have confirmed what farmers and residents in Chatham-Kent have known ever since their well water turned black. Pile-driving construction puts the groundwater at risk.”

“So, ministry staff have acknowledged that pile-driving is a risk to the groundwater in Chatham-Kent. Why hasn’t the Premier?” Natyshak asked.

“But this ban comes too late for farmers and residents whose water is black and where independent testing has shown a 14,000-times increase in Kettle Point Black Shale particles, which are known to contain heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and lead,” Natyshak said.

“Will the government listen to these farmers and residents, and conduct a health hazard investigation immediately?”

Ontario New Democrats are committed to developing an Ontario Water Strategy, if elected in June, based on the principle that the public should have access to clean water for drinking, sanitation and food.