‘David vs. Goliath’ and ‘good vs. evil’ were referenced during the opening prayer, as the Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns group held their first meeting on Thursday, October 26.
Approximately 200 people packed into the UAW Hall to hear the new groups concerns about the Otter Creek Wind Farm project, which is slated to begin construction north of Wallaceburg in the spring of 2018.
Keith Benn, a local geologist, Warren Howard, an executive with Wind Concerns Ontario and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton all spoke during the meeting.
Issues with ‘infrasound’, opportunity to halt project
Howard said the Ministry of Environment does not have proper regulations to measure ‘infrasound’, when it comes to noise impacts caused by wind turbines.
“The real hidden one is infrasound, which is below 20 hertz,” Howard said. “You can’t hear it, but you feel it. The reports are is you get this pulsing sensation in your chest, that’s infrasound. Remember the Cuban embassy problems they were having about a month ago, that was sound, which you couldn’t hear.”
Howard said some results of being exposed to infrasound is sleep disturbance, pressure in your ears, tinnitus, which is ringing in the ears, headaches, nausea, dizziness.
“All of these are linked to infrasound,” he said.
“The interesting thing is, the Ministry of the Environment denies that there are any health problems with infrasound, but that is an interesting gap in the regulations.”
More information about infrasound can be found, here.
Howard said there is no noise data for the new Enercon E-141 turbines, which the Otter Creek Wind Farm plans to install.
He said the Ministry also allowed Otter Creek to use an “out of date” computer model to measure and predict how noise is absorbed by the ground.
“So we’ve got a flawed computer model and we don’t have a figure to put in, so they’ve created estimates,” Howard said.
“So they’ve got a computer model estimate, that is based on estimates. Very bizarre.”
Howard said if the Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns group brings the wind company to a tribunal, having legal support will be key.
“That is where Water Wells First got into trouble,” he said.
“You have got to be ready.”
Howard said wind projects have been halted in the past, which were at the same point in the process as the Otter Creek project is now.
He said a key point, which is anticipated for the spring of 2018 for the Otter Creek project, is the “notice to proceed.”
This is the point in time where the project has been completely approved to move forward, Howard said.
Another important date for the Otter Creek project is May 10, 2018.
This is likely to be the last day that any government decisions are made ahead of the anticipated June 7, 2018 provincial election, Howard said.
“If it gets appealed, they will have trouble meeting that date,” he added.
Geologist concerned about water wells
Keith Benn, a geologist from Port Lambton, said it is hard to ignore the evidence from the damaged water wells in North Kent.
“Most reasonable people, I think, would look at this chain of events and say ‘there seems to be a cause and effect relationship here,'” Benn said about the well damage in North Kent.
“Certainly the evidence seems to point to these industrial wind turbines having damaged the water wells. It just stands to reason. It’s not proof that they did, but its certainly circumstantial evidence, which points to that. One would think, well maybe we should think twice about constructing these wind turbines because they seem to be damaging the wells.”
Benn said the conclusions and “scientific proof” in the Golder Report, which states that wind turbine construction does not impact water wells or water quality, is “most likely wrong” and “does not hold up.”
At a meeting back in January of this year “I was quite surprised to hear one of the representatives of those companies say something to this effect… ‘there is scientific proof that the wind turbines could not have damaged these water wells.’ I thought, well isn’t that interesting… scientific proof that they couldn’t have, what scientific proof could that be?
“Upon informing myself about this, I discovered that this scientific proof, the only scientific proof, in quotation marks, were models that had been prepared for the construction of the wind turbines. I thought, okay… this all sounds so authoritative, doesn’t it, when someone says ‘we have scientific proof that this couldn’t have happened.’ Well, that’s why I wanted to talk to you here about this so called scientific proof and the fact that it is not scientific proof,” Benn said.
Benn added that models do no provide scientific proof, but rather make predictions.
MPP will continue to fight
Before being welcomed to the podium to speak, the Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns showed the following video of MPP McNaughton at Queen’s Park earlier in the week:
McNaughton said on Thursday that he will continue to fight against wind turbines.
“We have an opportunity to stop this project,” McNaughton said.
“We know what the timeline is, Warren (Howard) laid that out. We know examples of projects that have been stopped across the province. The endangered species here with the Otter Creek project, the migratory bird path, and of course the water concerns, I think we have a good chance of stopping this.
“I want you to know that I will work with you all everyday. My office in Wallaceburg, we will do what we can, I know Wind Concerns Ontario will help the group here to do what we can to stop this for the people of Wallaceburg, because we need it stopped.”
McNaughton said petitions launched by Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns on Thursday, can be dropped off at his downtown Wallaceburg office and will be brought to Queen’s Park.
“We plan on elevating this debate at Queen’s Park for the next couple of weeks, for the Otter Creek and the North Kent project. Stay tuned for that, we’re going to make the government feel the heat on this.”
Wallaceburg group concerned, needs financial support
With one of the 12 turbines proposed to be erected only 1,000 metres from her home, Denise Shephard, one of the eight members of Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns, said she is terrified.
“These will be the largest turbines installed in Canada,” Shephard said.
Violet Towell, another group member, said the Enercon E-141 turbines that Otter Creek is planning to erect are 30% larger than other area turbines and their noise impacts are untested.
“It will take 125 trucks of cement for each base… that’s a large footprint,” she said.
Mike deBakker, another group member, said they will need financial assistance moving forward.
Once the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) for the Otter Creek project is brought forward by the company, the group will have 15 days to decide if they are challenging the REA and bringing the issue to a tribunal, deBakker said.
“It is you guys that are going to decide as a whole, this group and your friends… it’s going to depend on you,” he said.
“When it is on an aquifer that is really delicate, and that is my main concern, it shouldn’t be built, let alone the energy that is wasted. Look how close it is to a school, these noise effects are going to be bouncing through St. Elizabeth school, bouncing through the (Fairfield Park) nursing home. I can’t say for sure, but we don’t know, they don’t know. This new low frequency (noise), there could be a lot of people complaining, not being able to work, or live a normal life.”
deBakker added: “We learned a lot of stuff tonight. I’m so thankful for this whole meeting, it is a lot of information… but really, if you want us to take this any farther, if you believe in what we’re trying to do, than I guess the money has to go where the mouth is.”
deBakker said a bank account has been set up for the Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns group at the TD Bank in downtown Wallaceburg.
Donations can be made at the 402 James Street location and receipts will be given as well.
He said hiring a lawyer to guide the group through the tribunal process could range anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000, depending on the level of involvement from the lawyer.
Stay up to date with the group, by following them on Facebook, here: Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns Public Group
– Photo credit: Aaron Hall