It’s an Island! Emergency Services
Amherst Island has insurmountable safety challenges for turbine development. Because the Island is only accessible by ferry and has few roads, the construction of thirty-seven 50 storey turbines would:
- risk the safety of schoolchildren as the Island’s only school playground and gym are within 550 m of a proposed turbine and all heavy equipment and 11,000 truckloads of cement and materials will pass directly by the school and through the historic village of Stella. Of course, the same 11,000 trucks will return empty through the village and past the school.
- create an unsafe environment for residents, visitors, and workers as the narrow roads evolved from carriageways and are not designed for mammoth industrial cranes and equipment,
- the Island’s 60 kilometers of roads are not suitable for detours and one piece of large equipment could easily block access to the ferry or the roadway creating a potentially unsafe situation in the event of an emergency
- challenge the capabilities of the volunteer fire department whose first responders travel from their homes all over the Island to reach their equipment and the Island’s only pumper. When the narrow roads are blocked, no alternative route is possible. The risk to public safety is extremely high as the emergency services staff like every municipality in Ontario have no equipment to deal with turbine fires. Back-up is a ferry ride away and difficult at night when the ferry is docked on the Island.
A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Windlectric has not prepared an emergency services or roads use plan satisfactory to Loyalist Township. In a report approved by Loyalist Township Council on April 2, 2013, Murray J Beckel MCIP, Director of Planning and Development for Loyalist Township pointed out that the Fire Department has concerns throughout the life cycle of the project but is unable to comment until the applicant submits a satisfactory traffic management plan.
The Loyalist Township Emergency Services Department is aware of the provincial document Firefighters Guidance Note 6-35: ” Fires involving wind turbines may present a health and safety hazard for firefighters due to the electronics, flammable materials, and hydraulic fluids that exist in the turbines. For example, up to 750 litres of hydraulic oil may be found in the nacelle. Electrical fires can also result from both shorts in equipment and surges that may result from lightning strikes. Due to the height of turbines, firefighter health and safety may be endangered due to the height of the turbines.
The Bulletin goes on to say that fire response plans should be developed in consultation with the owner and contact information for 24/7 access provided and qualified personnel should shut off the power in an emergency. The Bulletin also points out that while rare, turbine fires do occur and should be allowed to burn out while creating a safe perimeter and checking for spot fires. The Bulletin also notes that turbine collapse is also rare and the majority happen within 500 m.
What the Bulletin fails to address is how a 17 person volunteer department with 3 vehicles (one pumper, a rescue vehicle and a truck on an Island with no water supply and no immediate back-up could manage.
It’s an Island! Impact on Water Supply
Windlectric/Algonquin has failed to conduct any hydrology testing. Because the entire Island is composed of limestone shale, the blasting and hoe ramming required to construct vaults and install turbines may affect the water table. Fracking is possible.
Heavy equipment such as large cranes may also affect shore wells particularly those thatHeavy equipment such as large cranes may also affect shore well particularly those that cross roads. As there are no services on the Island, residents are totally dependent on wells. No one can simply run to the store for bottled water. As the applicant has described the entire Island as the project area, the damage and impact may be considerable. Hydrology studies need to be conducted prior to any approval.