Cryptocurrency mine sparks debate

Dear Editor:

I am writing to you today so that my letter to Town Council may be read by the Public as it was not addressed during the April 11th meeting regarding the proposed zoning amendment of the lagoon property. I own the closest property to the proposed crypto-currency mining facility and solar farm and as such I would like to voice my concerns with regards to this development within the Town limits. Below are the main points from the letter submitted to the Town.

In multiple communities in the United States, Canada and England, there have been numerous problems associated with the operating of this type of facility near residential areas. Even with sound mitigating practices in place, nearly every community has had multiple residential complaints of excessive noise at all hours of the day and night. The typical facility emits noise at 105db, a level which is consistent with attending a rock concert. At five minutes of exposure to this level of noise, humans experience hearing damage. This noise level will be released 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without pause. That would the equivalent to having a helicopter or jet engine running outside of your home at all times. Prolonged exposure to noise of this decibel level has been found to cause adverse health effects to humans including neurological impairment, deafness, insomnia and cardiovascular problems. Due to this, I am greatly opposed to the potential development in the lagoon property.

In researching this type of facility, I have found several newspaper and television articles from multiple communities, some of which are in current litigation to have the crypto-currency mining sites removed from their communities. Excessive constant noise is the main concern. Residents are not able to sleep or peacefully enjoy their properties. Noise can be clearly heard not only outside, but inside with the television and radio on. For reference, the communities of concern include: Labrador City, NL; Sturgeon County, AB; Chicago, IL USA; Virginia Beach, VA USA; Chandler, AZ USA, and Niagara Falls, NY USA. There were also several locations listed in Texas, Wisconsin, Quebec, and London, England that were noted as places with crypto-currency mining concerns. The company representatives for the BMI Group indicated that approximately 55db of noise were measured at 100m away from their 2 sea can operation in Thorold. The Fort Frances site is proposed to be 8 sea cans to start with and up to 80 within three years. This would release lot more noise than the 2 sea can site they were using as an example.

It should be noted that it would not only disturb my property, but those in the surrounding neighborhoods. In the past few years, Walker/Cornwall/York/Eighth/Sixth have all had an influx of young families and this would impact the neighborhood children. There are also multiple family housing units along York Avenue, Eighth Street and Webster Avenue where children reside and would be impacted by the noise coming from directly across from them. Sound carries and as the lagoon is comprised of muskeg soil with a high water content, the sound will not only carry but be amplified. I can provide an example on how sound carries the Town: when the Bass Championship is held at the end of July, I can sit outside in the backyard and listen not only to the weigh-ins but the nightly musical entertainment clearly as if I were only mere blocks from the Bass tent. This is without a radio or television on, just the actual noise from the Bass tent carrying across Town.

When the lagoon was in use by Resolute, my property was exposed to constant excessive noise, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the aerators, machinery, trucks and workings. This noise could be clearly heard not only when working outside in the yard but also in the house with the windows closed. With the Hydro-One substation directly to the East of my property and high voltage lines both on the North and East sides of my property, there is a constant high pitch hum which, depending on the weather conditions, can be clearly heard inside the house with the windows closed as well as throughout the surrounding neighbourhood.

Another potential issue with the crypto-currency mining facility is the use of coolant water. Noisy fans are not the only way in which to cool data farms. Water coolant systems are also used. Where would this cooling water be discharged? Since the Northern lagoon is already in use with the deposition of watery materials from the former mill dump site on Balsam Street, would it be dumped into the ditches surrounding the property? Would it be disposed into the Southern lagoon area? Would it be disposed of in the sanitary sewer service, which is connected to Cornwall Avenue? If it is deposited into the sanitary sewer system along Cornwall Avenue, the most recent CCTV of the main (2017) shows that the main is in severely deteriorated condition and would not likely take a large amount of industrial effluent. Failure of the 1977 AC main or back up of sewage into my property would be likely. If the water were to be deposited into the surrounding tap ditches, it would be releasing potentially contaminated water into a system that flows into Rainy Lake via Frog Creek/the muskeg and into Rainy River through the ditches/storm sewer system of the North End. It would also potentially increase contamination along Cornwall Avenue and our property.

I am also opposed to the installation of a solar farm on the lagoon property. Although there are some potential benefits to the Town, the installation of high voltage lines and a collection facility/substation and battery storage site would increase the amount of noise and potential health effects to everyone residing in the general vicinity. High voltage lines have been proven to cause cancers, leukemia and neurological problems in humans due to the extremely flow frequency electric and magnetic fields they emit into the surrounding environment. Potential hazardous waste would also be generated as in most areas, solar panels cannot be recycled. This would also mean that there would be substations and high voltage lines on three sides of my property. It should also be noted that my backyard and the lagoon site are on the flight path for the Fort Frances Municipal Airport and the installation of solar panels could potentially impact pilot navigation and landing.

The Munn family purchased 6.46 acres of agricultural land at the edge of Town in 1946 and has maintained a homestead on Cornwall Avenue North since that date. Not only will the installation of both facilities impact the peaceful enjoyment of the property, the noise from the proposed facilities would also contravene Town By-Law 70/90 prohibiting unnecessary noise in the Town of Fort Frances, under which clause 2 states that “No person shall make noise or permit noise to be made that is likely to disturb any other person within the Town of Fort Frances.” This noise would effectively deem my family’s home of 76 years to be uninhabitable. The use of sea cans for the building of this proposed facility would also go against Town by-laws restricting the use of sea cans for construction within the Town.

Respectively submitted,

Donna Law