Library from Wisconsin
Three months after her controversial decision regarding the Shirley Wind Farm, Brown County Health Director Chua Xiong has resigned.
The project, valued at about $200 million, would generate up to 99 megawatts of electricity, or just barely under the threshold that would require it to obtain a permit from the state Public Service Commission. Tutos says permits for the project have been in hand for years but the project is moving ahead now that EDP is in "advanced stages" of negotiating an agreement to sell the power generated by the wind farm.
In this powerful letter to the Brown County, Wisconsin Health Board, acoustician Robert Rand explains his obligations under INCE Rules of Practice to notify the appropriate authorities if he believes his professional judgment pertaining to human health impacts has been overruled. In this instance, Mr. Rand is responding to a decision by the county's health officer, Chua Xiong, to rule against the work of the Health Board and find that there is insufficient evidence to show a relationship between wind turbines and health concerns. Mr, Rand was one of four acousticians who studied the noise issues at the Shirley Wind facility. The final report showed that all of those involved with the study, including acousticians who work largely for the wind industry, agreed they had found sufficient evidence to classify low-frequency noise and infrasound emanating from the turbines as a serious issue.
County board Supervisor Erik Hoyer wants the Board of Health to focus on other issues. He's proposing a new plan that would create a group of supervisors, citizens, physicians and scientists working together on this issue. ...by creating this group, he claims "we're able to better address the citizens who are impacted by the wind turbines."
"it's a constant stress -- and you feel it, and you hear it. ... it drives me nuts," said Joan Lagerman, who lives among the 88 turbines in Fond Du Lac county. "When you leave and get away from it, you don't have the pressures, you don't have the headaches, you don't have the ringing of the ears, those kinds of things, you cant sleep at night."
Classified as an endangered species in Wisconsin, the phlox moth has been cataloged in five counties, including Jackson and Monroe. It relies on the downy phlox plant, which according to the DNR does not rapidly colonize new openings. The frosted elfin butterfly lives in similar habitats and is listed as threatened in the state.
We can’t sacrifice the health of people to produce energy, even when it’s clean energy. Something is happening that is affecting these families who have testified to the negative health effects they’ve experienced living near wind turbines. Some have just abandoned their homes. Think about that — leaving your house because your health depends upon it.
For Sarah Capelle, the decision was made when her four-month-old kept waking up in the middle of the night, screaming.
Joan Lagerman of Wisconsin explains how wind turbines near her property have produced serious health impacts on her family. WE Energies, a utility in Wisconsin, operates the Blue Sky Green Field facility consisting of 88-turbines across 10,600 acres located between the townships of Calumet and Marshfield in Fond du Lac County and not far from the east shore of Lake Winnebago. Lagerman and her neighbors are surrounded by the 44 towering turbines spinning in Marshfield.
Choking back tears, Lagerman, 55, said Thursday she can’t take it anymore – the constant headaches, insomnia, hypertension and anxiety that came on after the wind farm was erected in 2008. “Doctors can’t find what is causing my health problems, but I can tell you when I leave home, they all go away,” Lagerman said. Just down the road, Elizabeth Ebertz, 73, lives in quiet agony in her home.
Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach and Kewaunee County Board Chairman Ron Heuer plan to ask their respective boards to sign on in support of a request that the state either fund a study, or cede control of wind-turbine siting regulations to the counties.
Positions on the board, though unpaid, are considered key because the panel has oversight of issues such as complaints about possible health effects from the Shirley Wind Farm in southern Brown, and odors near the Sanimax plant near the Howard-Green Bay line.
The people at the center of the fight over possible health impacts of eight industrial wind turbines in southern Brown County say a late 2015 decision by the county's health director raised as many questions as it answered. Director Chua Xiong found that there was not sufficient evidence to conclusively say the turbines in the Shirley Wind farm were causing illnesses — but nor did she rule out a possible connection.
Around 40 people attended the Brown County Board of Health meeting Tuesday where they urged Health Director Chua Xiong to reconsider her position and asked board members to look into other ways to shut down the wind farm. "I’m imploring all of you to fight for me, to fight for my family"
People from across the state attended this meeting, and after seeing and hearing the tearful reaction of the impacted residents after making her announcement, Health Director Xiong returned to the podium and pleaded for patience while fighting back her tears. It is beyond comprehension that she would ask the residents that have already been suffering for five long years to be patient with her while she monitors the situation “on an annual basis”, stating, 'it might take me five years, ten years, but I know it is something that has to be done'.
One chapter of the Shirley Wind Farm saga ended this past week, but the story needs to continue for the sake of the people living near the wind turbines — and those living near turbines elsewhere. ...The focus now needs not to be on assigning blame. It needs to be on helping the people who can't shake their illnesses — and who in a number of cases are trapped because they can't sell their homes and couldn't afford two mortgages.
Brown Co. Board of Health in 2014 declared turbines in the Shirley Wind Farm emit low-frequency noise that poses health risks. About 20 families experienced health issues they blame on the turbines. In a devastating setback for people living near the Shirley Wind farm, Brown County's health director on Tuesday declared that insufficient evidence exists to link wind turbines to illnesses suffered by people who live near them.
Judge Vlack ruled that more explanation by the PSC was due as to why six sensitive residences with health conditions were selected for lower noise standards while eleven other similar residences on record were denied consideration. Judge Vlack also made note of apparent ex parte communications between PSC staff and the wind developer in the selection of the six sensitive residences that excluded participation by the Town and the Forest Voice in those determinations.
The issue has long plagued local health boards in Massachusetts. Fairhaven, Mass., for example, in June 2013 shut down the town's two turbines at night in response to complaints about sleep deprivation. Falmouth, Mass., found in 2012 that one turbine was violating local ordinances because it was too close to a home and emitting too much audible noise -- not infrasound. But the controversy spurred studies by acousticians, including Rand, that concluded the turbines produce sounds capable of disturbing nearby residents and may lead to annoyance, sleep disturbance and other impacts. That led multiple residents to file lawsuits seeking damages for their health problems, claiming the turbines were to blame.
The Town has long fought and will continue to oppose the Highland Wind Farm project, which would place 42 500-foot tall wind turbines close to homes. The Shirley Wind Farm project, a wind farm designed by the same company behind the Highland Wind Farm project and which uses similar turbines, has been declared a public health hazard by the Brown County Board of Health after its excessive noise led families to abandon their homes.