We can hear the rapids before we see them, a sibilant rumble that sounds almost like the name of the place we’re visiting.
Wabagishik, the word for both the whitewater ahead and the wind-ruffled lake behind us, turns out, however, to be only accidentally onomatopoeic. According to Linda Heron of the Ontario Rivers Alliance, who consulted a First Nations teacher for the definition, it’s the Ojibwe term for white cedar.
It appears that what we thought was a done deal, is still uncertain. Xeneca has now invited all requesters to take part in a Project Liaison Committee meeting.
On the 11th of July, 2016, shortly after receiving the lists indicating that all of Xeneca’s FIT Contracts had been terminated, ORA and VRS wrote to the Minister protesting his decision to approve the Wabagishik Rapids GS, with conditions, on the grounds that it was based upon inaccurate and unsupported responses contained within the Ministry Review (Review) document, Xeneca Power Development Inc.’s (Xeneca) correspondence, and the Environmental Report (ER). The Minister’s office responded on the 16th of August, 2016, basically declaring that if we had questions about what was or was not contained in the ER that we should ask Mark Holmes. On that same day, Xeneca contacted the Chair of ORA and VRS with an invitation to attend the PLC. Read more →
The Vermilion River has been under threat from the proposed development of 4 modified run-of-river hydroelectric facilities since finding out about them late in 2010. The proposed Wabagishik Rapids Generating Station was the first of the 4 to move forward, and in November of 2013, the Vermilion River Stewardship, Ontario Rivers Alliance, and over twenty other individuals and organizations made Part II Order requests to the Minister of Environment, indicating that in our opinion Xeneca Power Development Inc. (Xeneca) did not meet the requirements of the Class EA for Waterpower in several areas, and requested that the Environmental Report (ER) be elevated to an Individual Environmental Assessment, a more rigorous environmental assessment. Read more →
What was found in the document was encouraging, and yet at the same time very concerning. It was encouraging to see that MOE concurred with ORA and VRS, when it reported “NR’s review of the ER indicated that in several instances, the proponent has not met the requirements of the Waterpower Class EA”; however, it was disturbing that “EAB has indicated they are considering denying the Part II Order requests with conditions, noting that it may be possible to impose detailed conditions to ensure all outstanding concerns are addressed”. This referenced document goes on to express the questions, concerns and uncertainty of how to deal with this deficient ER, and whether this would “expose the Ministry to any risk (ie: other proponents seeking the same level of direction during the proponent-driven EA process, or liability issues if the approach taken leads to unforeseen negative impacts on the environment or other users)”.
It is also important to note that there are no decommissioning provisions required for these renewable energy projects, so it is uncertain who will be on the hook for restoration of the site, and for the disposal of the toxic material contained in the solar panels once the development is no longer viable. While the impacts from solar projects are nowhere near that of coal-fired power plants, photovoltaic modules are made from a witch’s brew of toxic chemicals. Arsenic, cadmium telluride, hexaflouroethane, lead, and polyvinyl fluoride are just some of the chemicals used to manufacture the various types of solar cells. Corrosive chemicals like hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid, nitric acid and hydrogen fluoride are used to remove impurities from and clean semiconductor materials. To phosphine or arsine gas is used in the doping of the semiconductor material.
The Vermilion River Stewardship supports green energy projects, as long as they are truly green, and that stakeholders and the community at large support it. However, it has come to our attention that property owners, Cairin Nelson and Michael Cropper, as well as many other stakeholders in the community are opposed to this project. Read more →
We all want green energy, but let’s ensure it is truly green.
Wabagishik Rapids is a beautiful 1 km stretch of rapids on the Vermilion River, about 1/2 hour west of Sudbury, Ontario. A developer is proposing to build a modified peaking hydroelectric dam that would only produce enough power to supply about 1,600 homes. These types of dams have numerous negative impacts associated with them, and are very harmful to the riverine ecosystem. Check out this film to find out more.
The Lower Vermilion Source Water Quality Monitoring Project – a 3-year study characterizing the lower Vermilion River with a goal of identifying any negative inputs and outputs affecting water quality, and to ultimately recommend a course of action to protect and restore water quality on the Vermilion River system.