Chatham-Kent residents take water wells fight to Queens Park

Chatham-Kent residents take water wells fight to Queen\s Park
Chatham-Kent residents take water wells fight to Queen\s Park
Essex MPP Taras Natyshak holds up a sample jar of Chatham-Kent well water in Queens Park on March 8, 2018. (Taras Natyshak/Facebook)

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak was ejected from Queens Park Thursday after holding up a water sample, black with sediment, and demanding the acting minister of environment and climate change “take a drink.”

The NDP MPP began his statement by welcoming members of Water Wells First, a group of rural families from Chatham-Kent who claim the construction of North Kent Wind, a wind turbine farm owned by Pattern Energy, has been causing dangerous sediments to seep into their water. 

“Water is life, without it nothing survives, but for a long time now families in Chatham-Kent have been dealing with black water coming from their wells, jeopardizing their lives and livelihoods,” he said.

Natyshak added the fact sediments started showing up in well water as construction began on the wind turbine project was “no coincidence.”

He said the sediment is black shale, which can carry dangerous heavy metals, including arsenic.

“Thus far the analysis has not shown a connection between water quality and the construction activity,” he said. “The company has informed the ministry that they are working with homeowners to provide and pay for licensed well contractors to inspect their wells.”

Natyshak called the answer “unbelievable” and added many families also need water to keep their livestock alive — some are even watering their animals with bottled water.

“Its a sad day in Ontario where this is the quality of water,” he said, holding up a clear jar full of blackish liquid.

“Take a drink of this water,” he demanded. “Come over and tell me this is acceptable.”

The MPP was warned after the outburst and, when he spoke up again, was ejected to applause from Water Wells First members who were sitting in the gallery.

Zimmer said Chatham-Kents medical officer of health has confirmed the water does not have a “health risk.”

Natyshak shared a video of the exchange on Facebook where he vowed to “continue to fight for these families and any others in Ontario who have no safe access to clean drinking water.”

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A group of Chatham-Kent residents took their fight for better water to Queens Park.

Members of the Water Wells First group held a news conference in Toronto on Thursday, hoping to get more attention to an issue that has been discussed locally for more than a year.

The group is upset with the North-Kent wind farm, which they say is harming their water.

The residents were joined by Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak, who with the Council of Canadians, called for an immediate Health Hazard Investigation at farms located near Samsungs wind turbine site.

I have seen this black water come directly out of a well on one of these farms – theres just no way its safe to drink, said Natyshak, who recently toured some of the farms affected and saw for himself the poor quality of the water coming out of the wells.  18 families in the area all experienced the change in their water quality around the time that pile driving for Samsungs site began. Its not a coincidence.

Chatham farmer Marc St. Pierre says they only use the well water for bathing and toilets.

I hate the thought of that because my wife already has indelicate health, so to know that Im slowly poisoning her with this water is very disheartening, said St. Pierre.

Water Wells First blames the vibrations caused by wind turbine construction for contaminating their well water.

On the companys website, officials with North-Kent Wind say they received 16 complaints about water quality last year. They say they gave each complainant fresh water while investigating.

North Kent Wind said it deemed the water quality was not related to their work, rather the concerns appeared related to well construction, the condition of existing well pumping and treatment equipment, on-going maintenance, or lack of maintenance in combination with the natural conditions in the region.

Ontarios Ministry of Environment agreed with the companys findings.

The water park at Kalahari resort in nearby Sandusky, Ohio is still closed today after the popular indoor destination closed abruptly Monday when air ducts fell from the ceiling.

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