APAI has recently sent a letter to the MOE detailing the problems the project has with respect to handling emergencies. It goes for 11 well-written pages, followed by a 3-page snailmail/email exchange with Ontario’s fire marshall. Careful if you’re on dial-up, it’s almost 15 MB, due to the pictures. I recommend reading the letter in its entirety. It is remarkable just how vulnerable the island would be.
The letter starts out be reminding the MOE of the requirements of the GEA for the proponent to create: “measures to provide information regarding the activities occurring at the project location including emergencies.” The letter goes on to remark on the following 10 aspects of emergency responses:
- Municipal consultation form: Loyalist has rejected the submission as inadequate. Earlier post.
- Island contraints: everything must come by ferry.
- Water supply: must be sucked out of the lake, no hydrants or other supply.
- Fire department: good people, limited equipment. Earlier post.
- Island roads: lightly traveled, not up to mainland standards.
- Ambulance protocol: the ambulance must come from the mainland.
- Response times: first responder averaged almost 12 minutes, ambulance averages over 30.
- Fire incidence: especially marsh fires. Earlier post. And this.
- Turbine emergencies: no way for local department to handle.
- Turbine toxicity: there’s some nasty stuff up there.
The simple fact is that Algonquin has never submitted any even minimally-acceptable emergency plans, and the MOE seems not to care. As their proposal has been deemed “complete” we the public have only until March 9 to comment upon it. But how can anyone comment on something that doesn’t exist?
The 3-page exchange at the end is also illuminating (it’s in reverse chrono order). Deborah Barrett writes to the Ontario fire marshal asking for his assistance in getting the MOE/Algonquin to come up with an acceptable plan. He replies after a month that the GEA requires municipal consultation. Apparently he believes that this should be sufficient. I guess he has a different idea of what constitutes “consultation” than the MOE, which thinks of it as a one-way deal. Debby quickly responds that the project is proceeding regardless of any municipal consultation.
The proponent and the MOE will likely dismiss all of this as just Nimby Noise, saying that the odds of an emergency are pretty small. I’d agree, they may be small, but they are not trivially small. Regardless of how large or small they may be, it is pretty much standard practice in modern western countries to have plans, people, equipment and materials in place to handle problems. I guess those standard practices are no longer being followed in Ontario.