- Email about migraines came less than a month before she found no link between turbines, illness
- Executive: Xiong said migraines were 'due to the stress of making the decision,' not the turbines.
- Duke Energy, which operates the site, insists sounds from the turbines cannot be linked to illness
- Citizens' group: 'Brown County does not need Shirley Wind to become its Flint, Michigan'
Add another name to the list of people reporting health effects when they spend time near the Shirley Wind Farm: Former Brown County Health Director Chua Xiong.
"The times I have been out there by the Wind Turbines, l get such migraine headaches," Xiong wrote to Health Department intern Carolyn Harvey on Nov. 21. "I think I should take some preventative Tylenol before I head out there."
The statement came in an email released by the county after an Open Records request by Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy. The group, which alleges that low-frequency sound from the turbines has made some area residents suffer sleep disturbances and vertigo, says Xiong's email is evidence of the county "digging a deeper and deeper hole for itself" on the wind issue.
In a statement, the group likened concerns about potential wind-related health problems to worries about lead poisoning in another Midwestern city.
"Brown County does not need Shirley Wind to become its Flint, Michigan," spokesman Steve Deslauriers said Sunday evening.
Xiong resigned from the department this month to take another job, County Executive Troy Streckenbach said. Her last day of work was Friday. She could not be reached Sunday night.
Streckenbach said Xiong told him Friday she believes the migraines were "due to the stress of making the decision. She put a lot of time and effort into her job, taking it very seriously," he said.
Xiong ruled in December there is insufficient evidence to link the turbines and illnesses. Since then, she has come under fire from professionals who study sound and its effects. County Board of Health Chairman Dr. Jay Tibbetts, a wind-farm opponent, said he has been contacted by several acousticians who disagree with Xiong's ruling.
Tibbetts acknowledged that Xiong was known to suffer migraines in the past, and that multiple external factors can bring the headaches on. Still, he said, Xiong's comments seem to bolster the case of people who believe the turbines make them ill.
"That email," he said, "is as close to a smoking gun as we can get at this point."
Robert Rand, a Colorado acoustics consultant who has studied Shirley, filed a statement of "professional caution" with the Institute of Noise Control Engineering, a nonprofit that promotes noise-control solutions. He said he notified Xiong that he personally experienced health effects when visiting Shirley, but that she elected to disregard the enforcement powers authorized to her department."
"I must warn the board that the choice of inaction appears certain to worsen, not lessen, the health impacts being reported in the vicinity of the Shirley Wind Facility," he wrote in a letter obtained by USA Today Network-Wisconsin. "In my line of work, there is no excuse for harming neighbors; most certainly no excuse available to a health officer who should be held to an even higher standard of conduct."
Duke Energy Renewables, which operates the site, has said repeatedly sounds produced by the turbines cannot be linked to health problems. North Carolina-based Duke, which operates more than 1,000 turbines around the country, purchased Shirley Wind in 2011.