Ministry of the Environment says spill site at McLean’s wind farm project is clean

LITTLE CURRENT—The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) confirmed on Monday that the cleanup of a recent fluid spill at one of the directional boring sites as part of Northland Power’s McLean’s Mountain wind farm project has been completed.

“The cleanup has been completed and a final report will be provided to the ministry,” said Lindsay Davidson, a communications representative with the MOE.

The Expositor previously reported that on December 20, 2013, Northland Power was notified by the MOE of a spill at one of the directional boring sites associated with the McLean’s Mountain wind farm project of 40-50 gallons of alcohol-based windshield wiper fluid from two containers.

Sarah Charuk, director of communications for Northland Power, told The Expositor that the contractor, White Construction, believed that the containers were tampered with by vandals.

The Expositor followed up with the Manitoulin detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police, which told this newspaper that the incident had not been reported to police.

The incident prompted a letter from the Manitoulin Coalition for Safe Energy Alternatives (MCSEA) questioning the spill and Northland Power and White Construction’s treatment of the environment.

The MOE was able to clear up some of MCSEA’s accusations such as the spill occurring in a “known wetland/key habitat area.”

“The spill occurred on a snowmobile trail and not in a wetland habitat area,” responded Mr. Davidson.

Another concern raised by MCSEA was that there had been numerous other spills as part of the project that had gone unreported.

Ms. Charuk did confirm that there had been other spills, but stressed that they had been reported, contained and cleaned up.

“Since the start of construction there have been some minor hydraulic fluid spills due to o-ring failures,” said Ms. Charuk.

The MOE confirmed that there had been a total of 11 spills, including the most recent, of small amounts (less than 22 ) of “mainly diesel and hydraulic fuels and one incident of a dust complaint involving this company,” said Mr. Davidson.

The 24-turbine project is scheduled to be completed this spring.

“All the turbines are now fully erected,” reported Ms. Charuk of the project’s construction. “Electrical work and testing inside the towers is ongoing and the 115 transmission line is fully installed.”

“The switching and main substations are being commissioned and the collector system is being installed,” concluded Ms. Charuk. “Work on the operations and maintenance building is progressing well and the project COD (commissioning operation date) is targeted for the first quarter of this year.”

Robin Burridge