Wind turbine projects have previously been rejected in Wellfleet, Eastham, Orleans, Harwich, Dennis, Brewster, Barnstable and Bourne. Health concerns have been a major issue.
A Superior Court judge, hearing neighbor’ complaints that wind turbine noise constituted an intolerable “nuisance” that was causing “irreparable harm,” issued an injunction to curtail operations.
The “Falmouth experience” is not unique. Residents in at least 21 communities in Massachusetts (and hundreds of locations all over the world) have reported significant health problems as the result of living too close to wind turbines. Those problems include sleep disruption and deprivation, headaches, ear pressure, dizziness, nausea, problems with concentration and memory, fast heart rate, high blood pressure and panic episodes.
In a 2011 peer-reviewed journal article, Harvard-trained epidemiologist Carl Phillips wrote, “There is overwhelming evidence that wind turbines cause serious health problems in nearby residents ... at a nontrivial rate. The bulk of the evidence takes the form of thousands of adverse event reports. ... The attempts to deny the evidence cannot be seen as honest scientific disagreement, and represent either gross incompetence or intentional bias.”
Ambrose and Rand’s 2011 peer-reviewed journal article, presented at the InterNoise international conference, concluded there was “a strong correlation with wind speed, power output and health symptoms.” Research was conducted at one homeowner’s dream home in Falmouth, which was abandoned after wind turbines became operational nearby and cause health problems.
There is plenty of additional scientific and medical evidence of harm caused by wind turbines globally. This is not a “he said, she said” issue. The health impacts are real, and people report they become worse over time. It’s a dose response.
Affected people report not experiencing symptoms before wind turbines started operating near their home. The symptoms go away when they leave their homes. The conclusion is that wind turbines are causing their problems.
Many people living in the proximity of wind turbines are not informed about the potential health impacts of wind turbines by wind developers. Some people report they don’t start experiencing the symptoms until much after wind turbines begin operating. They don’t connect the symptoms they started to experience with wind turbines nearby, perhaps because of the dose response.
Approximately 13 wind turbines operate on Cape Cod and the Islands where people living nearby (over 1.25 miles away in several cases) have reported health problems. What steps can one take? It is important for those affected to report and create a record of the problem with their town health board and with Wind Wise Massachusetts (email firstname.lastname@example.org). Town health boards have the responsibility to residents and their families and to take action if there is a health problem in town.
Certainly most Barnstable County citizens don’t want to directly or indirectly cause harm to others. Furthermore, common sense dictates it shouldn’t be legally proper for one town to approve an industrial machine at its border with another town while knowing there is a potential to harm the health of residents of that town nearby.
The Cape’s state legislators have filed several bills to study health problems, educate health care providers and the public and to help people who have been adversely affected by wind turbines. It would be helpful if readers and local media supported the passage of these bills. Honest and unbiased research is needed so we can understand how to do no harm to people in the proximity of wind turbines by determining how close is too close. Only then could a regional comprehensive energy plan that does not harm the health and safety of people living and working nearby be drafted.
— Lilli Green lives in Wellfleet