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Residents Oppose Hydro One Transformer

Members of the Enniskillen Environmental Association - Photo Credit Aaron Harris/Toronto Star

The Enniskillen Environmental Association and community members in Clarington, Ontario are opposing Hydro One’s plans to build a massive transformer station in the federally and provincially protected Oak Ridges Moraine. The project would include five transformers on a 146 acre site at a cost of $296 million.  Local residents are concerned about threats to groundwater from dewatering and  transformer oil spills. The Oak Ridges Moraine provides drinking water for 250,000 people in Ontario, earning it the nickname of Ontario’s “rain barrel.” Hydro One intends to start construction of the project by December 2014.

The Enniskillen Environmental Association is formed of concerned community members taking a stand for their water.  They want the transformer station moved to a more appropriate industrial site where threats to groundwater and residents can be managed. Their concerns are supported by Dr. John Cherry, a hydro-geologist and associate director of  G360 Centre for Applied Groundwater Research. At a Clarington council meeting, the Toronto Star reports that “Cherry – who has proposed an extensive study of the area’s groundwater – told the meeting that [the environmental assessment] was ‘superficial,’ in large part because Hydro One didn’t ask for a more comprehensive report…Deep water-bearing formations on the site ‘have not been studied at all.’

Hydro One performed only a ‘desk top’ environmental review based on previous studies that did not reflect current research on groundwater and did no site-specific testing. Dr. Cherry warns that the limited environmental assessment sets a ‘dangerous precedent’ and, with support from the municipality, has proposed an extensive study of the area. The Ministry of Environment has resisted calls for a new assessment and has failed to respond to residents’ concerns.  

Now the Toronto Star reports: “Hydro One has threatened Clarington councillors with costly legal action if they pass a bylaw that could interfere with construction.” The bylaw, proposed by Councillor Joe Neal, would require developers to submit assessments on projects affecting groundwater  to the municipality. The mayor of Clarington has accused Hydro One of ‘steamrolling’ local communities to get their way. Hydro One is ignoring the concerns of local communities and denying their right to say “no.”

Maude Barlow has met with the Enniskillen Environmental Association and fully supports communities fighting back to take a stand for their water.

The Council of Canadians supports the Enniskillen Environmental Association, the municipality of Clarington, and Dr. Cherry in their demands for a more extensive environmental assessment. 

For more on the Enniskillen Environmental Association, please see: www.ennenvassoc.com.