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Public Health and Safety: Deficiencies of the New York State Department of State Presentation to Local Officials Concerning Wind Turbines

Dr, Kenneth Jaffe's response to the health and safety content of a June 2006 presentation by the NY State Department of State (DOS) in Delware County, NY.

The DOS presentation, which included a discussion of the impact of industrial turbine projects on communities and individuals, is intended to guide local officials in the process of writing regulations. Dr. Jaffe's response addresses what he believes are substantive misstatements, mischaracterizations, biased emphasis and faulty data contained in the DOS presentation.

Introduction

On June 7the New York State Department of State (DOS) made a presentation in Delaware County on planning for industrial wind turbines which included a discussion of the noise and ice throws that turbines produce.

Although these phenomena are of public concern because of the health and safety risks they create for people and communities the DOS information failed to address noise and thrown ice in a public health context.

For example, in discussing noise the DOS failed to mention the fact that noise, including wind turbine noise, has human health implications. Further, the two regulations that the DOS presented as ‘examples of sound regulations’ are outside the mainstream of local and international noise guidelines designed to protect public health. The level of noise in these two regulations will predictably produce adverse health effects in residents, including sleep disturbance.

Although ice thrown from large turbines can range in size from small pieces to hundreds of pounds and may land at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour, there was no mention of safety risks to people, property or livestock.

In short the DOS presentation not only lacked the proper public health perspective; but included statements that were misleading, factually incorrect, and without a basis in credible sources.

The goals of this note are twofold: to point out specific factual and scientific shortcomings of the DOS presentation; and to offer corrections that would more fully inform local officials and citizens of the public health and safety issues surrounding wind turbines.  

Summary

The point of this review is to indicate that the presentation by the New York Department of State did not give a true sense of the public health risks surrounding the noise and ice throws created by wind turbines. The presentation ignores the effects and risks for people and communities. The mainstream of public health and regulatory approaches to noise impact on communities is not mentioned by DOS, and DOS takes a position far outside this mainstream. In discussing ice throws DOS created a picture of certainty when in fact no actual data exists, severe injury or death could occur, and only theoretical calculations based on assumptions are available to guide regulators. DOS offers only the calculations and assumptions provided by the wind industry.

The DOS presentation in Delaware County did not provide adequate information or appropriate guidance for officials interested in protecting public safety. By embracing the available science and a public health approach to these risks the DOS would better serve the officials and their communities.

Editor's Note:

Dr. Jaffe's other works are available as follows:

(1) A Review of the Science, Literature and Recommendations Concerning Public Safety and Ice Throws from Wind Turbines
http://www.windaction.org/documents/3673

(2) Meredith's Vision and the Risks to Communities from Industrial Wind Projects

http://www.windaction.org/documents/3672

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Public Health And Safety And Wind Turbines Deficiencies Of The Ny Dos Presentation

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JUN 1 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/3529-public-health-and-safety-deficiencies-of-the-new-york-state-department-of-state-presentation-to-local-officials-concerning-wind-turbines
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