www.windaction.orgfacts, analysis, exposure of wind energy's real impactsWindactionhttp://www.windaction.org/articles/c49?theme=atomXarayar2006-06-12T02:16:27Z
Getting serious about setbacks
This week, utility giant National Grid teamed up with Nantucket High School in Massachusetts to erect a 100 kilowatt wind turbine on school property. The 158-foot turbine  is located immediately adjacent to the school's football and baseball fields and by the road that runs behind the school.
According to the Nantucket Independent, the high school originally proposed locating the tower immediately west of the Newtown Cemetery to provide for an adequate "fall zone" but the plan changed after concerns were raised about the visual impact of the tower on the historic burial ground. The turbine was moved to its present location.
This aerial image of the school sports fields shows a circle with a radius of approximately 50 feet to denote the location of the turbine.
Apparently, the school reconsidered the need for a safety zone which would have to be at least four times that size.
Perhaps they were unaware of the three turbine collapses in the Northeast alone since September 2008.
In one of these instances, the turbine detached at its base and fell full-length in a field. In another, the turbine malfunctioned and went into over speed. When a spinning blade hit the tower the turbine exploded and fell to the ground. Firefighters were called out to extinguish flames caused by the collapse.
Catastrophic failures are more common than the public has been led to believe. In 2009, three small-scale turbines at the Perkins High School in Ohio sent blades flying after a wind gust apparently caused a blade to flex and hit the support pole. Earlier this year, two turbines sited on Cape Cod in Massachusetts blew apart in high wind conditions. Many more incidences of fire, blade throw, and collapse have been documented.
GE Energy explains that we do not have a good understanding of what happens to turbines when operating in extreme wind conditions. If GE is recommending caution it would be prudent to understand the risks other manufacturers are citing. The coastal areas of New England are well known for severe wind and weather conditions.
Ice shedding is a separate but real issue. According to GE Energy's Wind Application Engineering Group, wind energy siting in cold climates, at a minimum, should be based on the following formula for calculating a safe distance: 1.5 * (hub height + rotor diameter). Using this formula, the Nantucket high turbine could fling ice nearly 300-feet away, well into areas where students play and gather. This e-mail characterizing ice-shed at the Searsburg, Vermont wind facility provides some insight into the problem. (Note: the turbines at Searsburg are 198-feet tall).
It's hard to imagine the parents whose teenagers attend Nantucket High School were aware of the risks of siting a turbine so close to populated areas. And the question of safety must have been just a fleeting thought for school officials since they agreed to the present location. Unfortunately, the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust (now part of Massachusetts Clean Energy Center), who partially funded the project, is silent on the safety question.
When Windaction.org asked about setbacks in reference to the Newburyport, MA turbine, also funded by the Trust and sited close to homes, we were informed by e-mail that: "Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust's goal is to support the installation of renewable energy projects and expansion of the clean energy industry in Massachusetts for a cleaner environment and stronger economy. The Trust evaluates projects at a high level and seeks to support projects that have a high likelihood of success and are deemed suitable by the communities in which they are located. The Trust is not a permitting agency; rather, permitting decisions for wind turbines are in the hands of each community."
There is a consistent pattern across the U.S. of small communities approving wind turbine proposals with little consideration, or apparent understanding, of the serious safety risks of erecting towers near public areas, rights-of-way, and residences. It surprises us that the insurance industry has not responded to the heightened risks. Hopefully, we will not see persons injured, or worse, before those making the decisions start taking the risks seriously.
 The NHS turbine has a hub height of 134 feet and a blade length of 24 feet, which totals 158 feet to the top of the blade when in a vertical position.
(Note: The distances referenced in this editorial pertain to the risks of flying debris from operating turbines. Setbacks to mitigate for turbine noise, shadow flicker and visual impacts are not considered.)
Mexico wind farm draws protests, injuring 22 people, AFP Says.378792013-03-27T01:42:15Z2013-03-27T01:42:15ZTwenty-two people were injured yesterday following protests over the construction of a wind farm owned by Spain's Gas Natural Fenosa in Mexico's southern state of Oaxaca, Agence France-Presse reported, citing local prosecutor Manuel de Jesus Lopez.Altamont Pass: Pilot hospitalized after fan-powered parasail strikes power line.375772013-03-03T05:53:51Z2013-03-03T05:53:51ZThe pilot of a fan-powered parasail was not electrocuted but fell about 50 feet to the ground when his ultralight aircraft ran into a power line near a major PG&E substation ...The hills in the area are dotted with dozens of wind turbines, which feed the substationStill no verdict after port death.373612013-02-12T14:05:58Z2013-02-12T14:05:58ZInvestigators are still searching for answers to an accident which left one man crushed to death under a wind turbine.
Engineer Per Terp, 42, from Norresundby, Denmark, died when he was trapped between a crane and part of a wind turbine at Harwich Port.53-year-old man hurt in 20-foot fall in Hanover.367612012-12-14T18:48:49Z2012-12-14T18:48:49ZThe accident occurred at about 9 a.m. Friday. Initial reports said he fell 40 feet, but Blanchard said he actually fell from 60 feet inside the turbine tower onto a platform 40 feet off the turbine floor.
Falling blade kills worker during Vestas installation in Germany.366702012-12-04T11:55:56Z2012-12-04T11:55:56ZA crane operator was killed while installing Vestas turbines at a site in Germany, the Danish wind equipment company says.
The accident happened yesterday morning when a blade dropped onto the crane cabin during installation by the subcontractor.
Seamen hurt after collison with turbine; Lifeboats to rescue.365902012-11-23T13:22:12Z2012-11-23T13:22:12ZAll five crew sustained injuries and a doctor was transferred to the vessel by lifeboat. The Island Panther made its way back to Wells where East of England Ambulance Service received the injured crew.Wind turbine worker injured near Wellersburg.365862012-11-21T23:00:44Z2012-11-21T23:00:44ZA wind turbine contractor was injured at the Twin Ridges Wind Farm in Wellersburg Tuesday afternoon when a large piece of steel fell on him.
The Wellersburg fire department and Meyersdale EMS were dispatched at 3:30 p.m., according to Somerset County Control.
Construction worker injured in manhole fall .358322012-08-14T11:56:54Z2012-08-14T11:56:54ZAn unidentified construction worker suffered unspecified injuries Tuesday afternoon when he fell into a manhole while working on the windmill lead line project in the area of Green and Grant streets.State lawmakers pass meteorological tower safety bill.357572012-08-10T08:38:49Z2012-08-10T08:38:49ZLegislation setting stricter standards for marking meteorological towers after a fatal plane crash on a Delta island last year awaits Gov. Jerry Brown's signature.
The bill, approved by the state Assembly on Thursday, requires that all such towers 50 feet and taller be clearly marked.
Hard hat saves man's life.355782012-07-20T11:36:09Z2012-07-20T11:36:09ZA Portland man is lucky to be alive after being hit by a falling three-kilogram piece of tubing at a Macarthur wind farm.
The man, 24, was working on a tower at a height of about 50 metres when he was hit on the head and shoulder by the plastic tubing, which had fallen about 20 metres.Man injured at Macarthur wind farm.355582012-07-20T11:01:44Z2012-07-20T11:01:44ZThe man, 25, was working at a height of about 40 to 50 metres inside the turbine when he was hit by a 3kg object.Man seriously hurt in Groton steam roller accident.80762012-05-25T12:58:01Z2012-05-25T12:58:01ZA man was seriously injured after the stream roller he was operating went over an embankment and rolled over, trapping him inside. ...Officials said they were unable to fly him to the hospital because of the weather. He was taken by ambulance instead.Non-life-threatening injuries in steamroller accident.268602012-05-25T00:25:31Z2012-05-25T00:25:31ZA worker at the Groton Wind Farm construction site was injured by a steamroller Friday.
State and local officials were on the scene at the end of Groton Hollow Road and had asked for a jaws of life.
It was not clear whether OSHA had been called.Man working in turbine struck by lightning is hospitalized .349342012-05-07T15:41:57Z2012-05-07T15:41:57ZA man working inside a wind turbine in Nolan County when it was struck by lightning Monday was listed in stable condition at a Sweetwater hospital, according to fire officials.Diver dies at wind turbine site.349032012-05-04T12:25:40Z2012-05-04T12:25:40ZGerman news agency dapd reported the diver's death was the third deadly incident at German offshore wind farms in two years.
Germany is seeking to multiply wind power generation with new offshore platforms in the North and Baltic Seas, but their construction and operation is logistically challenging.
Firm admits Earlsburn wind farm death safety failings .348672012-04-24T12:37:40Z2012-04-24T12:37:40ZAt Stirling Sheriff Court, manufacturer Nordex UK admitted a number of health and safety breaches on the site.
The Manchester-based firm admitted that between 1 November 2006 and 22 May 2007 it failed to ensure the health and safety of employees at the wind farm.