(TORONTO, ON) – The NDP MPP for Essex, Taras Natyshak raised the issue of Chatham-Kent area contaminated well water during question period at Queen’s Park yesterday. When David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, responded by saying that the CK Medical Officer of Health, Dr David Colby, confirmed that the water does not pose a health risk, Natyshak produced a jar of brackish liquid and said, “Take a drink of this water. Come over and tell me this is acceptable.”
After being warned by the Speaker of the House, Natyshak was expelled from the legislature. Members of the activist group Water Wells First, who were in the gallery, were also warned after applauding Natyshak’s challenge.
“I was ejected from the legislature today for the first time in my political career for standing up for families and farmers in Chatham Kent, who have had their well water contaminated with black shale from industrial wind turbine construction and activity,” Natyshak wrote on Facebook. “Water is life, without it nothing survives. I will continue to fight for these families and any others in Ontario who have no safe access to clean drinking water.”
Natyshak described the fight of residents in North Chatham whose water wells have been contaminated with black shale sediment. Water Wells First has been representing property owners in the area where, they claim, the drilling for wind turbines has caused the sediment to leach into their well water.
The Essex MPP said it was “no coincidence” that the sediment first appeared soon after drilling started by Pattern Energy. The black shale sediment contains heavy metals like arsenic and lead. The Ministry of the Environment has been testing well water in the area of the North Kent Wind 1 project, but Zimmer said that there was nothing connecting the water quality and the construction.
“It’s a sad day in Ontario where this is the quality of water,” said Natyshak, referring to the jar of liquid.