Engineering reports a sham

by Harvey Wrightman

With 500 turbines proposed for the area from Hwy 402 up to Goderich – looking like a porcupine, there will be no place to hide. Who will take us in? That was my thoughts as I drove past the Kent Breeze wind project.

So it was with interest that I listened to the Director, Mansoor Mahmood, who issued the “rush” REA for Kent Breeze. This he explained, was because:

1) the company had certain unspecified contractual obligations – hard to imagine someone telling Suncor to , “…Move it”, but perhaps that was the case.

2) and fortunately, the MOE had no “backlog” as it was initiating a new approval process.

Most of the Director’s  presentation was the usual extended journey to no-wheres-ville that Ms.Rotter,  “Freddy”, is so well-known for. With some sign of exasperation, the panel chair questioned the possible relevance to human health the detailing of “storm water provisions” had. Taking the cue, the Director launched into ministerial self-congratulation , noting that the design of the installation was so good that the land is still available for farming. I should like to point out to Mr.Mahmood that as I drove past Kent Breeze, I saw many new large pools of  liquid that the construction of new service roads had coralled.  It looked more like a project of Ducks Unlimited.

Without any hint of sarcasm he insisted that the fact that the review of Kent Breeze took the MOE 2-3 months, “…tells you how extensive the process was in reviewing this project…”
He also stated that the MOE is receiving new, exciting reports on a standard protocol to measure noise that can be used for both the MOE and “external stakeholders” –  shall we christen it “Noise Control For Dummies”?

A second study on Low Frequency Noise and Infrasound prepared by Brian Howe of HGC will soon be available to a download near you. It’s called, “LFN and Infrasound – How  To Ignore It.”

Oh, and don’t forget the “5 year Research Chair” into the mechanics of sound with a health rider loosely attached. Sure to please all supplicant thesis writers. And… 5 years, all the turbines will be up!

Suncor counsel, Albert Engel, who has the delightful habit of half-rising out of his chair, palms firmly planted on the table and his shoulder pads elevated around his ears giving him the appearance of, hmmm… Yes! Igor! asked how rigorous the new REA process is compared to the old Certificates of Approval. Mr.Mahmood responded that the REA is  , “…a consolidated process…the approval regime is multi-media (sic).” –  very soothing, don’t you agree?

It was a session long on self-congratulation, back-slapping and lot’s of wink-wink.

So, let me now give you some facts to chew on.Take a good look at some of the different noise studies offered on-line:
 
this one from Hatch for Kent Breeze is signed and sealed by an engineer.
 
 -The Conestogo wind project of NextEra/FPL – no signatures, no engineer’s “seal”. We know only that “Genivar” produced it. Pretty typical of NextEra – CHEAPPP.
 
– and this one from Oneworld/Green Breeze . Note that none of the authors are professional engineers licensed to practice in Ontario, and it is more a report on wind conditions. Oh well, that’ll do. You don’t imagine the MOE reads these, do you?
 
Remember Mr.Mahmood assured us that the REA process is so very, very robust, yet here are 3 typical examples of how low the bar is set re: the qualifications of the noise report authors – arguably the most important document in the whole process. At least Hatch used a P.Eng. With that you do get some guarantee, as a P.Eng. must personally stand behind his work. 

Not that the MOE cares a whit –  anyone who can fill in the forms correctly can submit a noise report. Go ahead, ask them. I did, and the answer I got was not very reassuring. By the way, you can submit any “non-engineer” noise reports to the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) and ask them if they consider them to fall under the practice of engineering. They have “calculations” in them, and that is the key word. They will reply.
 
At last, during the recess, a member of the gallery who lives in a wind project, very gently questioned Mr.Mahmood how he could live with the contradictions presented by his role in approving projects that cause people harm? His eyes widened, he had no response, and he turned away.

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Posted on March 24, 2011, in Environmental Review Tribunal, Green Energy Act, Ministry of Environment, Suncor. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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