Library filed under Impact on People from Massachusetts
Town Meeting voters quickly approved a moratorium on industrial wind turbines Tuesday night but debated implementing a regulation on flicker that could be prohibitive for new wind turbine projects. The final vote was 101-43; the measure passed by the needed two-thirds majority.
Following this discussion, the [planning] board quickly recommended Town Meeting approval of the moratorum on utility scale turbines through April 15, 2016. An advisory group for the state is meeting to consider revising state noise regulations for turbines.
FAIRHAVEN — Board of Health challenger Louise Barteau defended wind turbine neighbors Wednesday night while distancing herself from other members of the group Windwise during a Candidates Night.
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.
A bid to push along the town’s commitment to buy power from a proposed wind turbine project in Plymouth has stalled because the Board of Selectmen wants more information about the town’s costs and savings as well as the lawsuits surrounding the proposal.
Louise Barteau of Fairhaven said she rented a studio in the fall of 2011 within 963 feet of where a wind turbine was later built. Barteau said she felt pressure in her head, nausea and other symptoms frequently claimed by affected neighbors of wind turbines. "I said I'm not sticking around for this because I could leave," she said. Others, she said, weren't so lucky.
“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.”
Despite being dealt a setback in a similar suit last year, the town is again suing its own Zoning Board of Appeals in an attempt to overturn the determination that Falmouth's two municipal turbines are a nuisance. On Dec. 5, the ZBA ruled that the turbines located at the town's wastewater treatment plant were disruptive to Barry and Diane Funfar, who live on Ridgeview Drive.
Democratic state representative Gailanne Cariddi says she is supportive of a bill that would create a commission to look into the health concerns of those living near turbines. As a result of DEP testing, in November, a judge ordered the town of Falmouth to shut off two turbines it operates during evening hours and on major holidays.
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.
Building Commissioner Eladio Gore determined they [the turbines] were not a nuisance, so Funfar appealed that decision to the ZBA. Thursday night, the zoning board unanimously voted to overturn Gore's determination. The ruling means the town is ordered to take whatever steps are necessary to remove the nuisance caused by the turbines.
The hearing was a continuation of Mr. Funfar’s original appeal filed in September. The turbines, he said, have worsened his pre-existing health issues as well as affected the value of his home and have caused new health issues. ...“Just the history of the assessed value that I see here convinces me that there is a real impact on Mr. Funfar’s property because of the proximity to the turbines,” said board member Kenneth H. Foreman.
Lawmakers waded back into a battle waged for years between environmentalists who want to shorten the permitting process for smaller wind energy projects and residents who say their health suffers from living near a turbine.
US Justice Muse has just ruled  that two 1.65 VESTAS Wind Turbines in Falmouth cause “irreparable physical and psychological harm” to the health of neighbours. He has ordered that the turbines are immediately turned off between 7pm and 7am every night, pending the hearing of a case for noise nuisance.
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.
The plan includes a proposal from Fairhaven Wind to pay for software that would automatically turn off one of the town's two turbines in "adverse weather and wind conditions." It is not clear exactly what those adverse conditions are. Acksen also mentioned the possibility of turning off one turbine between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m.
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.