Noise and Canada
I realized I had a story that was bigger than just the effectiveness of wind energy. You can like it or you can hate it-that isn't the point. What this is about is government and business rushing ahead with new technology without ever making sure it's safe. A car manufacturer would never get away with releasing a new model without extensive safety tests. Same goes for food, appliances-anything. And yet these machines just kept going up, and up, and up.
Government documents released under Freedom of Information showed environment ministry staff issued internal warnings the province needed stricter rural noise limits on turbines, that it had no reliable way to monitor or enforce them and that computer models for determining setbacks were flawed.
Despite that, McGuinty forged ahead with his industrial wind development plan through his Green Energy Act, which stripped local municipalities.
Many political economists argue that environmental assessments and other regulatory regimes often fail to serve the public interest because the regulatory process tends to be "captured" by the concentrated interests - the fox ends up in charge of the henhouse.
The history of Ontario's Green Energy Act makes their case.
I can only hope Health Canada's study is independent of the wind industry and governments. One must question the motives of anyone willing to outright dismiss or deny any and all health effects. Those living close to industrial wind turbines - mainly our rural, farming-type folk - would never have considered abandoning their homes, and their complaints should be dealt with compassionately.
The Ministry of Environment recently did some noise testing at my house. For the entire testing period, the noise level was never below 40 decibels and often over 60 decibels. Absolutely nothing has been done to deal with this problem. ...People living near these wind turbines have been suffering health problems because of these turbines. Some health problems are very severe.
I share your concern about the potentially serious effects of wind turbine generated pressure changes at significant distances from the site. The problem is similar to the premature application of 750 kV lines and the various US Navy projects that resulted in significant health problems because political and economic enthusiasm eclipsed perspicacious and informed decisions. I would recommend a delay in the construction and operation of wind turbines in your region until an objective environmental impact study is completed.
The Tribunal’s 223-page ruling provides a fascinating, in-depth look at the state of current wind farm science and policy; many pages are devoted to the testimony of each of the witnesses, which included well-known researchers with a wide range of viewpoints, including Rick James, Geoff Levanthall, Christopher Hanning, Robert Colby, and many others.
What I have found particularly intriguing is the consistent and almost automatic dismissal of the health impacts for those colocated with the turbines. I have listened to people arbitrarily dismiss health issues as being psychosomatic or regurgitate the popular excuse of the lack of scientific evidence. With respect, I would suggest to those who support these notions that you have completely misunderstood the problem.
The ambient noise in rural environments such as Silcote Corners is from 25- 30 decibels, since it is not influenced by other background noises of traffic, industry and the like.
So the question becomes, how disruptive is noise of 40-45 decibels from an industrial complex (such as the wind farm) when it is located in a natural environment with an ambient noise level of 25- 30 decibels (or 15-20 decibels less)?
I live next to a neighbour who has a contract with Hydro One to reverse her meter using a wind turbine on a 100-foot frontage, in-town lot. Depending on wind direction the ensuing whining of loose moving parts affects my sleep, my appetite, limits the use of my backyard and no doubt will diminish my property value.
These turbines emit a pulsing, swishing noise that never stops, and the low frequency noise and infrasound they emit is a very serious concern for populations exposed constantly in their homes. Worldwide, people are reporting sleep disturbance, dizziness, headaches, and a host of other symptoms.
The governments of Ontario and Canada have a policy to implement renewable energy generation including that from industrial wind turbines.
This policy has been established without conducting third party "front end" human health studies to determine authoritative guidelines designed to protect health. To date, there are no peer reviewed studies demonstrating that industrial wind turbines are safe near families.
Over the past week or so, two reports from Ontario have spurred a fair amount of notice and comment among those following wind development issues. The Acoustic Ecology Institute comments on the reports' conclusions.
David Orton and Helga Hoffmann-Orton of Pictou County, provide a thoughtful commentary on the recently released book, Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment written by Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD, K-Selected Books, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2009, 292 pages, paperback, ISBN-13: 978-0-9841827-0-1.
Companies applying for wind farms require only two things: Renewable energy approval from the Ontario Ministry of Environment and a power contract with Ontario Power Authority.
What isn’t apparently required is any sort of health study examining the effects of living beneath several of these behemoths; even though the province openly admits more needs to be known.
On the surface, a wind farm project should be a welcomed addition to any community. ...But there is a well-organized contingent of residents who live in the area of the proposed wind farm who are gravely concerned the provincially-mandated setback will not be enough to block out the throbbing noise of the turbines and the high pitched noise of the electrical transformers.
The comment by a wind industry-paid panel that the sound of wind turbines are an "annoyance that may be a frustrating experience for people, [but it is not] an adverse health effect or disease of any kind" is a classic example of the commercial tradition of paying academics from "prestigious" institutions to be yes-men.
Studies commissioned by Wind Energy lobby groups containing paid-for results should not be considered independent. This is rather an opinion piece of a hand-picked panel. It is a low order of scientific evidence.
No original research was conducted.
Normally, I don't write about problems I encounter in getting information from government because I feel it's too "inside baseball" for readers.
I'm making an exception because I think this incident illustrates the problems besieged opponents of industrial wind turbines living in communities across Ontario are encountering in getting straight answers from their own government.
This, as Premier Dalton McGuinty appears hell-bent on erecting these giant steel structures, up to 40-storeys high, as fast as he can.
The last time McGuinty was this juiced we got ... eHealth.
Barbara Ashbee distributed this letter to all media in Ontario Canada. Ms. Ashbee and her family abandoned their home due to wind turbine noise and other impacts which have harmed their health and quality of life.