Environmental Liability Request for Action on Water Contamination: Review

Posted Category: Water Contamination

In respect of water contamination/pollution issues, wherever wind turbines are built on water catchment areas around the world, the potential for serious harm exists.

The ‘Request for Action‘ was lodged with the Scottish Government and agencies in July 2015.

A  Letter from SEPA   dated 29th April 2016 provided an update that SEPA had completed its initial assessment.

Not only are all the areas of alleged contamination acknowledged, but it demonstrates the length of time the authorities are taking to do anything about it.  SEPA is therefore neglecting the potential for harm in current developments and are ignoring:

Environmental Liability Directive ELD.200435.CE Article 5

Dr. Connor is also communicating with the UK water authority SEPA over the contamination caused by the construction of Whitelee windfarm.  She has pointed out that the developer, Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) allegedly failed to comply with planning conditions (conditions 6.8 and 6.9) which required it to monitor groundwater in a statutory protected drinking water catchment area (The Water Environment (Drinking Water Protected Areas) (Scotland) Order 2013) during construction of the Whitelee windfarm Extensions and failed to follow the advice of its own environmental consultants to continue to monitor groundwater on the original windfarm site in view of the recorded adverse quality changes and the appearance of significant levels of synthetic semi-volatile and volatile chemical compounds in groundwater.

Given that there has been no continued monitoring of Private Water Supplies, which only occurred between 2006 to 2012, and taking SEPA’s comment of ‘in order to determine whether it is satisfied that the request has demonstrated in a plausible manner that environmental damage or an imminent threat of such damage exists– Dr Connor has requested clarification as to whether SEPA will be judging whether pollution of drinking water supplies and the hydrological environment which occurred in the past, during the windfarm construction which ceased four years ago, will be judged by examining monitoring results from the present (if such results for groundwater and PWS became available).  There is a danger here from SEPA’s comments to Dr Connor (quoted above), that the use of semantics will obscure the actual evidence of previous harm to the hydrological environment and damage to public and private water supplies from the multitude of monitoring results conducted by Scottish Water, SEPA and the developer, as well as Glasgow University between 2005 to 2009.

The effects of the bacterial water pollution are likely to have caused or contributed to recorded illness in the consumers of those private water supplies at that time.

The effects of chemical contamination on those water supplies and consumers are unknown and may occur in the future (see Open letter to Dr Aileen Keel , Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Scotland), but the change in the public raw water quality from the Whitelee site has led to Scottish water abandoning two reservoirs and a recently upgraded water treatment works in favour of bringing ‘clean water’ to the area from over 20 miles away, at a cost of £120 million pounds to the taxpayer.

Recognising that waterbourne diseases such as cholera could be eradicated with clean water, our Victorian forebears built sophisticated reservoirs and supply systems distant from industrialised cities. Recent Scottish Government policy is destroying that vision by encouraging the industrialisation of water catchment areas, producing consequent water pollution.  The evidence demonstrating that this results in excessive levels of Trihalomethanes (THMs) in the public water supply was part of a study by Cranfield University into the formation of disinfection by-products of chloramination, potential health implications and techniques for minimisation.  THMs are recognised by the World Health Organisation as possible carcinogens. More on contamination of public and private water supplies by windfarms

However SEPA decides to assess plausibility, it is clear that adverse effects on human health and finances did occur, which coincided with the building of the adjacent, single largest construction project in Scotland at the time.

SEPA also points to the fact that their report is yet to be concluded and that alarmingly, there is no time frame in which they are obliged to provide an answer.  So we still do not know by what ‘yard stick’ SEPA measures environmental damage; whether this relates to a  peat slide that occurs today, or a current change in water quality or quantity in response to a precipitating event more than 5 years ago.

No one seems to take responsibility for proscribing either what test parameters are required ( eg hydrocarbons) or what the  test intervals should be. So as in the case at Whitelees, it was 7 years of drinking polluted water ( – although East Ayrshire Council had had some historical water test data showing that a LOW level of intermittent bacterial contamination in @ 1986- 1990 was present (though not conveyed to the 10 householders on the supply) No one independently scrutinises the developers risk assessment of Public Water Supply and yet this is so important.

How safe is your drinking water if the reservoir which supplies your area is close to a windfarm?

To watch Dr Connor’s video