Residents living near the Scituate Wind turbine are asking town officials to agree to an independent noise compliance investigation of the turbine in an effort to collect the evidence necessary to take protective action under both the Nuisance Law and under the state’s Noise Pollution Regulation.
“Nothing has changed,” said David Dardi, who lives near the turbine. “Scituate Wind’s turbine continues to disrupt the sleep and adversely impact the lives and health of both my neighbors and myself.”
The 400-foot wind turbine was installed in its spot on the Driftway in early spring 2012. Shortly after it went online, people in the neighborhood began to complain about the noise and the flicker associated with the turbine.
“There have been varying degrees of discomfort and sleep interruption during the last five years,” Dardi said. “I have experienced constant ringing in my ears, better known as tinnitus, during times that the turbine is operational. It is unacceptable and inconsistent with the Nuisance Law that in order to mitigate the noise I am forced to shut my windows on a lovely summer evening and play background music so that I can try to sleep. Many nights I am forced to take prescription sleeping pills in order to sleep.”
Dardi said five years ago, 25 homeowners registered persistent noise and nuisance complaints with the Scituate Board of Health.
“The complaints have dissipated for several reasons - but not because the noise has become tolerable,” he said. “Some neighbors moved away, some moved the location of their bedroom, some installed central air since they can’t open their windows due to the noise from the turbine, most neighbors simply felt defeated that town officials ignored the seriousness of the situation and refused to support an investigation process that had full integrity.”
Ellen Kasper also lives close to the turbine and is impacted by the noise.
“The turbine can be so loud it prevents sleep or wakes me up during night and I am unable to go back to sleep,” she said. “I often wake up with ringing ears. I work in Boston and need to be there by 7 a.m. I have had near accidents falling asleep after a terrible night from wind turbine disturbance.”
Both Kasper and Dardi have attended selectmen meetings and have reached out to the Scituate Board of Health.
“The selectmen have listened to many of us who are impacted and have implemented a noise mitigation program, but that program hasn’t been successful in protecting neighbors from on-going noise assaults,” Dardi said. “As a result, noise complaints continue to come in.”
The turbine can be heard in all types of weather conditions, Kasper said.
“It is most disturbing when wind speed is low and background noise is minimal during the night.”
Kasper, who has been documenting the disturbances caused by the turbine for years, would like the turbine to be off from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. all year.
“If it isn’t impacting me I am sure it is impacting a neighbor elsewhere.”
Dardi would like a study to be conducted by an independent professional “that has no political or financial connection with the wind industry.”
“My view is that the financial windfall to the town is preventing officials from doing the right thing and that is to protect public health and safety,” he said.
He points out that the Scituate Board of Health allowed the turbine owner to hire Tech Environmental to engage in the post construction compliance testing in spite of the fact that this firm produced the pre construction reporting upon which the permit was approved.
“The neighbors were right to claim that this decision was wrong in that Tech Environmental had a conflict of interest,” he said. “The neighborhood group objected to this arrangement but the board of health allowed the conflict of interest with no comment.”
There has been significant evidence collected to show serious flaws in the testing firm’s methods which support the neighbor’s concerns with the integrity, Dardi added.
The conditions that exist in Scituate are not unique, said Dardi.
Dardi cites other communities, such as Kingston, Plymouth and Bourne, among others, where wind turbines have been placed too close to residential areas, and complaints have come in.
“It is obvious that the towns were ill-advised during the permitting process,” he said. “Towns were assured that these turbines would be harmless and comply with state law, but that is not true. Acoustic testing in Falmouth, Fairhaven and Kingston, for example, proves that the sound power levels assured during pre construction were seriously under-stated, if independent acoustic testing was allowed here in Scituate I assure you that the same would be documented here.”
Everyone was looking forward to the wind turbine starting, Kasper said. Once it did, however, they were “totally unprepared for how disruptive it would be to our lives and health.”
“We are not against alt energy,” she said. “A wind turbine of this magnitude shouldn’t be sited so close to homes.”
The turbine issue will be placed on the agenda for the board of selectmen’s Oct. 3 meeting, according to Selectmen Chairman Maura Curran.