A health hazard investigation into water from private wells located near the North Kent Wind project is needed, according to the Liberal candidate for Chatham-Kent-Leamington.
Margaret Schleier Stahl recently met with a Chatham Township property owner whose well contains black shale sediments and Kevin Jakubec, the spokesperson for the Water Wells First group.
“This specific issue is such a new issue to me, but what is not new is having safe water and having accessibility to that,” said Schleier Stahl, whose riding lies just outside the affected areas.
“I know they’re looking for a health hazard investigation … I saw what they needed. I do believe that needs to be done.”
Schleier Stahl works for the Municipality of Chatham-Kent as a life skills therapist. She said coming out in support of an investigation could put her job in jeopardy, but she believes the people affected need to be heard.
Water Wells First has been pressuring the Ontario Liberal government and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to take action on this and have tracked about 20 wells which they say have gone bad.
They blame the pile-driving to install the wind turbines for the effects on the wells.
The ministry has said the water is safe to drink, but Jakubec said they haven’t tested the actual sediments within the water.
He has received commitments from the leaders of the Green Party, the NDP, the Progressive Conservative Party and the Trillium Party to open an investigation if they form government, but Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne has not offered the same support.
Mike Radan, the Liberal candidate for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, said an investigation first needs to be done to determine the cause of the contaminated wells and he noted the ministry has determined the turbines are not the cause.
“Obviously, there’s a problem of some sort when these people have water that is not drinkable,” he said. “Let’s find out what’s causing the problem and see what can be done to bring about a solution so that people have clean and safe drinking water.”
Radan said he would support a health hazard investigation if experts determine one is warranted.
Jakubec said having local Liberal candidates be open to an investigation is “a start,” but he would like support from Wynne.
“If they can recognize it, then why can’t the leadership recognize it?” he said. “I’ve met with Premier Wynne twice. She knows the issue and yet we don’t see any recognition from the top of the party.”
A health hazard investigation would determine “a safe limit to the number of (black shale) particles per millilitre of water,” said Jakubec.
He said the investigation would need to start directly after the election because a pending hazard investigation would have negative effects on the real estate market in the area.
Jakubec said he will be submitting a letter to Schleier Stahl on the issue Tuesday and will ask her to pass it on to Wynne.