A group of frustrated farmers blockaded three construction sites in Chatham-Kent Thursday to protest provincial inaction on pile driving that they claim is pushing bits of sediment into their drinking water.
Members of Water Wells First parked farm equipment in front of locations on Country View and Oldfield Lines around 7 a.m.
"The people here in the community just feel like they're sitting like guinea pigs, waiting to be plucked out and experimented on," said spokesperson Kevin Jakubec. "The tensions are boiling over here."
The group blames the ongoing work at the North Kent Wind project for leeching sand, silt and fragments of black shale and accused Ontario's Ministry of Environment and Climate Change of ignoring their evidence.
In a statement, ministry spokesperson Gary Wheeler said the government takes water quality concerns "very seriously" and has imposed several conditions on pile driving companies, including vibration monitoring.
"Well water quality testing prior to wind turbine construction shows that turbidity in the wells is associated with naturally occurring groundwater conditions," wrote Wheeler, adding the company will continue to monitor water quality and vibrations as the project continues.
Chatham mayor calls for 'decisive action'
Following the blockades, Mayor Randy Hope wrote to minister of environment Chris Ballard, asking for an "immediate intervention" in the water quality issues due to "conflicting reports" on water quality that created "fear and concern among residents."
"The ministry cannot remain silent on this very important issue," the mayor added. "This is an extremely urgent matter which demands immediate, decisive action from your ministry and government."