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Are turbines harmful to people?

Windmills, and wind turbines, are harmless. Or are they? Centuries after Quixote's fictional fight, the question of wind-power safety is at the centre of a battle between homeowners and an energy firm 150 km southeast of Calgary, where hundreds of wind turbines are planned. Two farmers living close to the Blackspring Ridge Wind Project say they are worried about long-term health impacts -- something the company, Greengate, says has no basis in fact.

The answer is blowin' in the wind but that's not good enough for some Alberta landowners

Don Quixote imagined they were giants with flailing arms, and was prepared to slay the evil windmills, ridding the earth of whirling menace.

Of course, the would-be knight from the famous Spanish novel -- and source of the phase "tilting at windmills" -- was completely nuts, his world a hodge-podge of delusion and fantasy.

Windmills, and wind turbines, are harmless. Or are they? Centuries after Quixote's fictional fight, the question of wind-power safety is at the centre of a battle between homeowners and an energy firm 150 km southeast of Calgary, where hundreds of wind turbines are planned.

Two farmers living close to the Blackspring Ridge Wind Project say they are worried about long-term health impacts -- something the company, Greengate, says has no basis in fact.

"No peer-reviewed study has even reached the conclusion of adverse health effects as a result of wind turbines," said Dan Balaban, president and CEO of Greengate Power.

Balaban is one of Alberta's new energy entrepreneurs, responsible for tapping into the one resource which trumps oil and gas when it comes to quantity -- wind.

It's... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The answer is blowin' in the wind but that's not good enough for some Alberta landowners

Don Quixote imagined they were giants with flailing arms, and was prepared to slay the evil windmills, ridding the earth of whirling menace.

Of course, the would-be knight from the famous Spanish novel -- and source of the phase "tilting at windmills" -- was completely nuts, his world a hodge-podge of delusion and fantasy.

Windmills, and wind turbines, are harmless. Or are they? Centuries after Quixote's fictional fight, the question of wind-power safety is at the centre of a battle between homeowners and an energy firm 150 km southeast of Calgary, where hundreds of wind turbines are planned.

Two farmers living close to the Blackspring Ridge Wind Project say they are worried about long-term health impacts -- something the company, Greengate, says has no basis in fact.

"No peer-reviewed study has even reached the conclusion of adverse health effects as a result of wind turbines," said Dan Balaban, president and CEO of Greengate Power.

Balaban is one of Alberta's new energy entrepreneurs, responsible for tapping into the one resource which trumps oil and gas when it comes to quantity -- wind.

It's touted by environmentalists as the clean, safe solution to fossil fuels, but around the world, the turbines are starting to stir health concerns once reserved for gas wells and the like.

Headaches, nausea, dizziness and earaches are among the reported complaints -- and that worries those living near the Greengate project.

For four generations, Steve Dahl's family has farmed near Blackspring Ridge.

The 42-year-old, his wife and two children are nervously awaiting the day when turbines are erected on the horizon, and Dahl fears he may have to leave the farm.

"We don't want to leave, but I'm worried about them -- I hear about health problems with humans and animals," said Dahl.

"More than anything, we just want to know the truth."

Unless there is evidence proving the turbines are safe, Dahl feels the company should offer homeowners a buyout, allowing them to move away.

Doug Wilson, Dahl's retired neighbour, has a tentative deal to sell his farm, but he agrees the company should give a moving grant to those impacted by the turbines.

"They shouldn't put us in the middle of a wind farm -- it's like making us live in an industrial area," said Wilson.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association, which represents many of the companies erecting turbines, denies any health impacts, calling such claims a myth, while pointing out most neighbours have no trouble with turbines.

There's no question that Greengate has followed all the rules in planning the Blackspring Ridge project, holding community meetings and following Alberta guidelines for windfarm design. But there's a difference between living in sight of the towers and almost under them -- Dahl can expect turbines within 500 metres of his home, and a noise level of 40 decibels per turbine.

While relatively quiet, it's that never-ending noise and spinning that's the key to health issues, says Dr. Robert McMurtry, former Chair of Surgery at the University of Calgary and Chief of Surgery at Foothills Hospital.

"Sleep disturbance can explain a whole raft of other symptoms, and there is legitimate evidence of sleep disturbance as a result of wind turbines," said McMurtry, now a professor at the University of Western Ontario.

McMurtry is also one of Canada's leading critics on wind turbine safety, and he says the industry and governments are burying their heads in a bid to appear in public as environmental champions.

"They seem to believe an absence of evidence is evidence of absence, when it comes to health issues," said McMurtry, who points to multiple studies suggesting turbines may be harmful.

Not that he's against wind power -- it was his plan to erect a turbine on his Ontario land that led him to conclude not enough is known about long-term health effects.

McMurtry says no government has yet ordered a proper, authoritative study to determine how far turbines should be from homes.

"There are no shortage of critics, but what would really help is of the Government of Alberta would order a full study of people living around and under turbines," said McMurtry.


Source: http://calsun.canoe.ca/News...

FEB 5 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/18917-are-turbines-harmful-to-people
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