Ground Current Pollution – Ontario Government Unwilling to Fix Problem!(Dr. Magda Havas) July 4, 2016. It seems that the Private Member’s Bill 161, Elimination of Ground Current Pollution, which received unanimous support in the Ontario Legislative Assembly on February 18, 2016, is going nowhere.
A few weeks ago I had a meeting with Minister James Bradley, who is the MPP for St. Catharines as well as the Chief Government Whip and the Deputy Government House Leader.
Bradley has been with the Provincial Liberal Party for decades. I first got to know him when he was Minister of the Environment. Jim Bradley and the then Federal Minister of the Environment, Charles Caccia, were both instrumental in bringing about clean air legislation related to acidic emissions. Along with the Canadian Coalition on Acid Rain and many scientists from around the world, Canada and the United States agreed to limit sulphur dioxide emissions from coal and smelting operations to protect lakes and forests and to make air cleaner to breathe. The result is that we have cleaner air, some of our lakes are recovering, and forest dieback has decreased. Those were the days when Ministers (at least some of them) were willing to do what was right and what was needed irrespective of the opposition. To get two countries to agree to cleaner air was no small task, especially with the coal and mining industries mounting a strong lobby.
I expect Bradley was willing to meet with me because of our work together on the acid rain issue decades ago.
This time the topic was electromagnetic pollution. We discussed several things, including the Ground Current Pollution Bill that Liberal Maria Van Bommel introduced to the Ontario Legislative Assembly in 2006 and Conservative Rick Nicholls reintroduced, in a modified form, earlier this year. In both cases the Bill had support from all three parties and received a unanimous vote in favour, during its second reading.
One of my questions was, “So what are the chances for the Ground Current Pollution Bill to pass its third and final reading?
Bradley said the Bill doesn’t stand a chance of being passed. It is unlikely to even go to Committee. Any Private Member’s Bill (PMB), especially one introduced by the opposition and one that is contentious and costs money isn’t going to move forward, according to Bradley.
While I appreciate his frankness and honestly, I’m deeply disturbed by his response. Bradley said that the ground current problem has been discussed and received a lot of attention and that should count for something.
Tell that to the animals that are suffering and the farmers who are losing their livelihood. Tell that to the kids who are NOT going to inherit their family farm.
I learned that Private Member’s Bills (PMBs) are just a charade that politicians play to make it look as though they care and are doing something. I have no doubt that those who spoke in favour of the Bill were sincere. But how many of them realize the effort was a waste of time and that the Government has no intention of allowing this Bill to become law?
Randy Hillier MPP, wrote about this in an article called, “Empowering Ontario Legislators.” He cites many Bills that don’t make it past second reading (and in some cases multiple second readings) and he recommends changes to the Standing Committee Orders. Here are a few that relate to PMBs:
• Removing Government Monopoly on Third Reading
• Compelling Committee to hear all Bills Referred
• Co-Sponsorship of Bills
• Compelling Committee to hear all Bills Referred
• Co-Sponsorship of Bills
4. utilities responsible for the generation, transmission, distribution, and monitoring of electricity maintain adequate power quality and ensure proper electrical wiring to minimize harmful ground current;
Why is ground current a problem today?One key reason ground current is a serious problem is that the much of our electrical distribution infrastructure is antiquated. Instead of updating the electrical wires properly, utilities that distribute our electricity, are taking a short-cut to save money and are connecting the neutral wires to ground and using the ground to return the unbalanced current to source. What this means is that electricity is flowing through the earth.
When an animal is in contact with the earth, the electricity can flow through its body. The greater the current, the greater the flow through the animal. And, the levels are so high in some parts of Ontario that they are adversely affecting animals.
Animals won’t drink as much because they get a shock when their mouth or tongue touches the water. They feel tingle current flowing through their body and they need to break the circuit (by lifting a foot) to temporarily reduce the flow. In a barn with a serious ground current problem, the animals are twitching, flicking their tails, and lifting their feet as though they were dancing. The “dance” is one of agitation and not of joy. They often have sore udders that won’t heal, swollen joints, open sores on their knees and feet that don’t respond to antibiotics. They produce less milk, in part, because they consume less water. They often miscarry and many die.
Here is a video that shows you cows exposed to ground current pollution.
If this isn’t an example of animal cruelty, I don’t know what is.
In some cases ground current comes from an on-farm source that farmers can remediate. But often, it is due to ground current from the utility’s distribution system. This is something that only the utility can remediate. And this is the problem. ONLY the utility can fix the problem but they refuse to do so. ONLY the government can insist the utility fixes the problem but they refuse to do so!
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) was told about how serious ground current is on some farms in Ontario at their Annual Conference June 15, 2015, yet they have done nothing to assist farmers and to reduce the suffering of livestock despite numerous requests for help.
So what does this mean and where does this leave us?
Well … it means that the electrical utility distributors can continue to dump electrical pollution, in the form of ground current, into the ground to save money and they don’t have to fix the problem. It they were dumping sewage or toxic waste, that wouldn’t be allowed but ground current can’t be seen and it does smell so few know or care or believe it can be harmful.
It means that animals are going to continue to suffer, to get sick and die on farms that have a ground current problem. It means that farmers are also going to get sick since ground current affects people not just 4-legged animals. It means that farmers are going to spend more time dealing with sick animals and more money paying veterinary bills. It means that milk production is going to be reduced as are the number of calves they can raise to sell for breeding or meat or to replace their dying animals. In addition to health problems farmers are going to continue to experience financial problems.
By the way, ground current occurs in cities as well. It comes into your home via the plumbing and other grounded metallic objects. It has been linked to childhood leukaemia and may contribute to other cancers (Wertheimer, Nancy, David Savitz, Ed Leeper. 1995. “Childhood Cancer in Relation to Indicators of Magnetic Fields from Ground Current Sources. Bioelectromagnetics. 16:86-96). So living in a city doesn’t mean you avoid ground current pollution.
I once asked an electrician friend why the utilities are so unwilling to fix this problem and his response was most enlightening. He said the utilities used to be run by engineers. Engineers are problem solvers. Today they are run by accountants and lawyer who care only about the bottom line and minimizing their clients’ liability.
What this means is that the system is broken, the emperor has no clothes, and nobody gives a damn!
How can you help?People often ask me what can they do to help.If you would like to do something to help eliminate ground current pollution, consider contacti
- your local MPP;
- Rick Nicholls who introduced Bill 161;
- Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs;
- Katheleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario;
- your local OSPCA;
- farm associations like the Dairy Farmers of Ontario; Ontario Federation of Agriculture; Christian Famers Federation of Ontario; Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario;
- other Provincial and Federal Agricultural Organizations (list of websites);
- the media and asking them to investigate this problem.
I was hoping that Jeff Leal and Jim Bradley would step up to the plate and move this legislation forward. Time to support farmers and to stop animal suffering is long overdue!
There must be someone out there who cares and is willing to give more than lip services to this serious environmental problem!