Monday, June 1, 2020

Letter: MPP calling for health hazard investigation

Dear Minister Ballard and Minister Hoskins,

Since Samsung began intensive pile-driving at its North Kent One site more than six months ago, local residents have reported the appearance of black particles in their well water. And yet, no meaningful action was taken by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change or the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to ensure that the local drinking water remains safe.

That needs to change. I’m calling on your government to immediately undertake a health hazard investigation at the North Kent One site. Under section 11 (1) of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, both of your ministries, in conjunction with the local medical officer of health, are required to investigate any complaint about a health hazard related to environmental health. A complaint has been made, but no investigation has happened.

Recently, independent lab results prepared on behalf of residents revealed that the amount of Kettle Point Black Shale particles in the local well water has increased 14,000-fold since this construction work began. Kettle Point Black Shale is known to contain heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and lead. Again, I am aware of no meaningful action taken by your government to protect the health of residents from this potential threat.

The Ontario NDP believes that water is a public trust. 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.

And so it is unacceptable that Samsung, with the approval of the provincial government, seems to be treating North Kent as a sacrifice zone, as it uses disruptive construction methods that may be affecting the local water table and the health of residents who depend upon it.

Local residents have asked the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to review the lab results, and to investigate whether these particles pose a health hazard. The public deserves to know whether their well water could make them sick.

In the meantime, the provincial government should immediately halt any further construction at the North Kent site until Samsung can prove it can operate without turning its neighbours’ well water black.

Taras Natyshak
Member of Provincial Parliament, Essex

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