Has Samsung SLAPP’ ed back at protesters of its North Kent Wind project?
“Strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP) has been defined as a lawsuit started against one or more people or groups who speak out or take a position on an issue of public interest. The purpose of a SLAPP is to silence critics by redirecting their energy and finances into defending a lawsuit and away from their original public criticism. Concerns have been raised that SLAPPs also act as a warning to other potential critics. The effect of SLAPP suits is to discourage public debate.”
Council of Canadians slams heavy-handed Samsung Energy legal tactics
Chatham, ON – The Council of Canadians is condemning Samsung Energy for filing a million dollar plus statement of claim against Chatham area residents who blocked construction at one of 34 wind turbines the company is erecting as part of its North Kent One* wind power project.
Many of the people who took part in the 11 day blockade have filed well interference complaints against the developer, citing the vibrations from the company’s pile driving activity as the cause of the sudden influx of black silt in their wells. At least thirteen well interference complaints have been made since the company started pile driving for the turbine foundations last June.
According to the developer’s Statement of Claim, the impact of the construction delay caused by the blockade “amounts to costs ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 per day, covering only the current amount of labour and equipment idle.”
The Statement of Claim names Water Wells First spokesperson Kevin Jakubec and Cindy Soney as defendants. It also includes “other individuals who have been involved in the unlawful conduct….who have not yet been identified and have been named as John Doe and Jane Doe.”
The well water on the Jakubec family’s farm became polluted with black silt shortly after pile driving began nearby.
“Our well water was crystal clear for decades before the pile driving started,” said Jakubec. “Now, Samsung is claiming that we damaged them to the tune of millions of dollars. I wonder how they sleep at night because I sure can’t.”
In 2016, Kevin Jakubec challenged the government’s approval of the North Kent One project at the Environmental Review Tribunal where expert witnesses warned specifically that vibrations from pile driving could cause the pollution problems seen in the last few months.
“Million dollar lawsuits are usually meant to intimidate,” said Mark Calzavara, Ontario Organizer for The Council of Canadians. “But people don’t back down when it comes to protecting their water. The evidence clearly shows that the construction is causing the pollution. Samsung must stop this project now.”
* North Kent One Wind is owned and developed by Samsung Energy and Pattern Energy.
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