Letter to the Editor
I am a resident of Meaford and I live directly below where TC Energy is proposing to build a 375 acre storage dam (that’s approx. the size of 284 football fields) containing over 6 billion gallons of water for their Hydroelectric Pumped Storage Plant. There are hundreds of homes, farms, cottages, and livestock who live in what we have coined ‘The Impact Zone’. We will be the most affected by this project should it move forward.
I am responding to John Mikkelsen’s letter published on August 14. In his letter he states, “We know we can design, build, operate and maintain a safe reservoir and we want to prove it to you.” Based on what? TC Energy has never built one before. Their poor safety, compliance, and maintenance record succeeds (sic) them. I ask that he proves this to us without the risk of putting us in harm’s way.
John said this project is not unprecedented. I will then ask for an example of a project where a hydro storage dam of this size was built on an active military training base directly above an existing neighbourhood with the closest home approximately 0.67km away (source Grey County GIS). I cannot find one. During training exercises my home shakes, my windows rattle, and I am told it can sometimes be heard all the way into Collingwood. Over time it has produced stress fractures in my walls and ceilings. What are the long term consequences of man-made seismic activity due to artillery detonation on the dam? Due to its proximity to the tank range, what are the consequences should there be a catastrophic accident such as wayward munitions or an intentional act of malice?
John Mikkelsen, if safety is your number one value at TC Energy why are there so many safety infractions reported against your company? (Refer: Canada Energy Regulator and Polaris Institute.) If safety is your number one value, why would you even propose this be built above an existing neighbourhood. This project contradicts that value. Actions speak louder than words. If safety truly is your top priority and value, then do not build this reservoir above our homes, on an active military base. There are two other alternatives for placement of this project on DND lands that do not put life at risk. DND states these alternate sites interfere in their training operations. This project’s current proposed location interferes with us residents as well; it affects our security, safety, welfare and our piece of mind. Our anxiety and concerns are real and valid.
John, in your letter, you only speak about the dam over-topping and the measures you will take to mitigate effects of that. There are many other contributors to a possible dam failure, such as: spillway malfunctions, equipment malfunction, dam seepage, settlement, erosion, and foundation deficiency to name a few.
TCE has made some necessary changes to the intake system to mitigate damages to the shoreline and the bay. There must be a workable alternative for the location of the storage dam as well. DND and TCE must work together to come up with a proposal of a new location that works for all, including the residents. Has there been any consideration of building the storage dam west of 9th line and making it fully excavated (below grade)? I (we) will never support this proposal if the storage dam is built above my (our) home(s).
I do not expect TC Energy to have regard for our safety. They have proven their low environmental intelligence by selecting a site based only on a body of water in close proximity to draw from, and the required elevation. To shoehorn the storage dam into the southern boundary line and above people as a last ditch effort shows an absolute lack of regard to public safety. They purposely promoted this as an isolated area and excluded the neighbouring homes in their presentation boards during their town halls. When asked, where are our homes? Their representatives said, “We didn’t know anyone lived there.”
I do expect DND to highly regard our safety in their decision-making. In which case, if the only option for the placement of the dam is above our neighbourhood, the answer should be NO outright. DND has the power to stop this now!
Who is watching out for us, the people who will be directly impacted by this proposed project? We are not even considered important in the consultation process. From the DND website…
Who is the Focus of this Consultation?
The Government of Canada will consult and engage with:
Indigenous communities that may be affected by the proposed project, as well as cottage associations, and municipal, provincial, and federal partners.
Where do we, the residents directly impacted, fall within these consultations? We fall between the cracks. We are the white elephant in the room. How and when will our municipal, provincial, and federal representatives speak up for us? I have asked the DND, TC Energy, government officials, the Municipality and our Mayor, “What are the consequences to the people who live below the storage dam should it fail?” No one has given me an answer to date.
In closing, John, you speak of your intention to meet with those who wish to learn more. There are many questions and concerns unique to the community within the Impact Zone. We respectfully request an opportunity to be directly consulted regarding this proposal, be it a large public area where we can safely social distance or an interactive virtual meeting. I await your response and commitment for a consultation. I would also encourage our municipal leaders to push TCE for this direct consultation.
Resident ‘IMPACT ZONE’