Library filed under Noise from Massachusetts
The boards of health in Scituate and Kingston are grappling this month with studies of noise pollution from large-scale wind turbines in their communities, with Kingston officials dealing with reports of sound exceeding state standards and Scituate officials being told there was no problem.
My local newspaper recently published an op-ed piece which is one of the ugliest, most main-spirited I have ever read. According to its author, Melody Affonce, anyone whose health is harmed by wind turbines must furnish unassailable proof before we take action to prevent further harm. She compares these victims to those seeking workers compensation, welfare, or disability benefits. At the moment, the only thing the turbine neighbors are actually asking for is relief.
An acoustical study on the town's wind turbine has still yet to yield any solid results a year after the board of health ordered it be completed.
Peter Deterra, the recently re-elected Health Board member in Fairhaven and his cohort, Jeannin Lopes,have repeatedly said we need more science before action can be taken to protect residents from the harmful effects of the wind turbines. Given this ardor for science, they have probably already read Paul Schomer’s recent research, but perhaps others might be interested.
“This is a medical puzzle plopped into the middle of a very political environment,” says Dr. Steven Rauch, a hearing and balance specialist at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and professor of otology and laryngology at Harvard Medical School. “I personally have no doubt that there is a real physiological phenomenon going on and some patients are vulnerable to it,” says Rauch, who has seen two such patients with a plethora of symptoms, but has not treated Funfar. “There’s a lot of science on it, and it’s growing.”
Nate Seltenrich, a science and the environment writer, explores wind turbine noise. In this report, he writes that "anecdotal evidence strongly suggests a connection between turbines and a constellation of symptoms including nausea, vertigo, blurred vision, unsteady movement, and difficulty reading, remembering, and thinking." An excerpt of his report is provided below. The full article can be accessed by clicking the links on this page.
Four months have passed since testing was last done on Scituate’s industrial wind turbine, a delay that has frustrated residents who say the turbine is affecting their health. “It’s safe to say there is a level of exhaustion…It’s clear [the town isn’t] doing anything about it.”
Barnstable Superior Court Judge Christopher J. Muse granted a preliminary injunction Thursday, ordering the town to only operate the 1.65-megawatt turbines at the wastewater treatment facility 12 hours per day, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. The turbines will remain idle on Sundays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Although Muse stopped short of turning off the turbines, he did agree that their operation was causing the Andersens and many of their neighbors harm, including "insomnia, headaches, psychological disturbances, dental injuries and other forms of malaise," according to his order. "The court finds there is a substantial risk that the Andersens will suffer irreparable physical and psychological harm if the injunction is not granted."
The preliminary injunction was filed late last night and requires the town to turn off the machines from 7 PM to 7 AM daily. Additionally, Judge Muse’s decision calls on the turbines to be turned off on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The move follows what was a supposed agreement reached two weeks ago in Barnstable Superior Court between Falmouth’s attorneys and lawyers representing neighbors living near the turbines.
Two weeks ago, in the injunction hearing in the Town of Falmouth vs. the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals case where the ZBA decided that the wind turbines were a nuisance to Neil Andersen, both parties presented a 7AM to 7PM agreement to the judge. Falmouth Selectmen subsequently disregarded that agreement and continued to run the wind turbines 5AM to 9PM. One selectboard member advocated running the turbines 24/7 in spite of the Court's request. Hearing this, Superior Court Justice Christopher Muse granted the injunction sought by nearby residents. The order is available by clicking the link on this page.
State noise regulations prohibit any noise source from being more than 10 decibels louder than background noise. Last winter, the DEP's noise testing of the turbines detected five violations. The July proposal allowed for continued testing of the turbines to see whether changing the angle of the blades to slow their spinning could still remain in compliance of state law while maintaining higher levels of power production than turning one turbine off completely.
The Andersens and the zoning board won one round earlier this month, when Muse ruled against a town request to toss out the board's ruling. On Thursday, he went one step further, saying abutters were “injured in some way” by the turbines. The turbines will now shut down from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and another hearing will be held Nov. 21.
The town's Board of Health decided Monday to ask selectmen to reconsider the operating hours for the town's municipal turbines, but stopped short of ordering them to either change or expand the devices' eight-hour downtime.
State Rep. Sarah Peake has introduced a bill (H. 2048) that calls for the commonwealth to convene a health commission to study the health impacts from land-based wind turbines. This legislation is about conducting honest scientific and medical research, developing educational materials and developing training for health care professionals. Massachusetts citizens deserve no less. ...It is time to quiet the rhetoric and make decisions regarding wind turbines by finding the real facts about the health impacts of the turbines.
Jared Goldstone, Chairman of the Falmouth Board of Health, announced that the Board will examine Falmouth's new wind turbine operational plan and its impact on wind turbine neighbors. That examination will include public comment according to Goldstone.
The town's two wind turbines will run 16 hours a day ...The operating plan increases the current 12-hour operation enough, in theory, for the turbines' operation to break even financially but falls short of the threshold that would have created funds to pay for mitigation plans for homeowners negatively affected by their operation.
The energy output of the 390-foot-tall turbine, which is owned by Scituate Wind LLC, made up of Palmer Capital and Solaya Energy, must also be at least 60 percent. Power Dash, a website that records the turbine's production, showed it was operating at 30 percent during testing Aug. 14.
Disagreement over the syndrome's true nature shouldn't preclude sympathy for the people who are being driven from their homes, or to banging their heads against the wall in frustration. Their complaints aren't sitting well, though, with those who see great promise in wind power as a cheap and efficient source of renewable energy.