The spokesperson for Water Wells First says new testing reveals a 14,000 times increase in black shale particles in at least one local water well since construction started on a wind farm project north of Chatham.
Paul and Jessica Brooks, who live at 9597 Brook Line in Dresden, say they have experienced well water issues ever since wind tower pile driving began on the North Kent Wind project near their home.
The family decided to conduct baseline testing through RTI Laboratories in Michigan to find the total amount of particles in their water on June 22, 2017, shortly before the construction of the North Kent wind farm. In early August, the Brooks family began experiencing water problems and had their contaminated water sampled and tested on September 4, 2017.
You can find the results of those tests by clicking here.
Kevin Jakubec, the spokesperson for activist group Water Wells First (WWF), says it is now clear that pile driving has released an increased amount black shale particles into the Brooks family's well.
"There were 47 particles of black shale in the Brooks family well before the construction of North-Kent Wind, now it's gone up to 682,000. That's over a 14,000 times jump in black shale particles," says Jakubec. "If you were to drink six glasses of water from the Brooks' well, you'd be ingesting 1-billion particles of black shale per day."
Jakubec wants the Ministry of Environment (MOE) to work with Ministry of Health to investigate potential health risks associated with high amounts of black shale.
"We're calling for a health hazard investigation immediately. Under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, a health hazard is defined as a solid, liquid, gas, or any combination thereof that can pose a risk any human being of any age," says Jakubec.
Back in 2016, Jakubec says a WWF toxicologist raised health concerns regarding well water affected by black shale and says these heavy metals over time could cause chronic-health risks and increase the potential for cancer.
Jakubec says the municipality needs proper studies and scientific investigation to see the long-term effects of black shale, as well as the size, shape, and chemistry of these particles.
"When the Ministry of Environment says that the black shale is naturally occurring, they're insinuating that the black shale has been there, you've been drinking it all along so this is nothing new, but they've never told us what the natural level is... in fact, they don't have that data," he says.
Jakubec says WWF's hydrogeologist and bedrock geologist offered to meet with municipal officials and Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby, but were turned down. He says the experts even offered to do a presentation about the results at a Chatham-Kent council meeting.
"We received a letter from the communications director of the municipality that our offers, all three of them, had been respectfully declined... the reason being that it's too technical of an issue for the municipality and they direct our attention to the MOE," explains Jakubec.
In response to Jakubec's claims, though, Chatham-Kent CAO Don Shropshire says he is not aware of any requests from WWF to come before CK Council to review the results of the tests, adding that municipal officials weren't invited to Tuesday's news conference, either.
Jakubec says the experts contacted the MOE eight weeks ago and were told a meeting would be set up, but they didn't hear back to set up a time or date. He says the MOE is risking becoming "obstructionists" on this issue if action is not taken soon.
Back in the summer of 2017, the municipality offered well water testing for families experiencing. issues. However, Jakubec says the tests do not look for black shale particles. He says this is why individuals with WWF have had to spend over $100,000 out of pocket for the testing through RTI Laboratories, which specializes in particle studies and is equipped to look for black shale.
"The tests follow the Ontario Standard Drinking water official list, which is really set up to look for dissolved metals in the water... we've known all along that this is a solid pollutant," says Jakubec. "When you see the black sediments in your water, that particular laboratory method doesn't separate and filter the solids and it doesn't analyse the solids."
To his knowledge, no well owners have had their wells tested by labs offered by the MOE or the municipality.
Jakubec says WWF is currently trying to set up test pilot study with a high-tech filtration company from U.S, but must first determine the cost.
He says the group is also working on engaging the Ontario Environment Protection Act to begin groundwater cleanup, which would require government supervision and funding.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment responded to the allegations from Water Wells First by saying "the ministry’s top priority is to continue to review all scientific information, so we can communicate directly with affected well owners" and that they "expect to finalize the reviews over the next few weeks."
The MOE is also encouraging the affected well owners to share any additional information they may have with ministry officials.