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No proven link exists between wind turbines, health problems

Selling their home isn't something Helen and Bruce Fraser wanted to do, but they felt they had no choice. They'd bought the County Road 17 Melancthon property from Bruce's father, included stonework from Helen's parents in the design of the house as they built it, and spent 32 years making it their home. ...They're one of six Dufferin property owners to sell their land to Canadian Hydro Developers (CHD), proponents of the Melancthon EcoPower Centre, the very same operation Fraser is convinced caused their health problems.

Part two of three-part series

Selling their home isn't something Helen and Bruce Fraser wanted to do, but they felt they had no choice. They'd bought the County Road 17 Melancthon property from Bruce's father, included stonework from Helen's parents in the design of the house as they built it, and spent 32 years making it their home.

It's also where they raised their four children.

When talk of a Dufferin county wind farm first started, the Frasers thought it was a great idea. They threw their support behind anything intended to better the environment. But soon after an industrial turbine - about as tall as a 25-storey building (80 metres) - started spinning nearby, they decided they had no choice but to move away.

They're one of six Dufferin property owners to sell their land to Canadian Hydro Developers (CHD), proponents of the Melancthon EcoPower Centre, the very same operation Fraser is convinced caused their health problems.

"I'd have such a headache I'd be holding my head thinking the top was going to come off my head - that's how bad it was," Helen Fraser says.

"We had no idea how they would impact us until they were put up. Basically, we were all for them because we're for anything that's... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Part two of three-part series

Selling their home isn't something Helen and Bruce Fraser wanted to do, but they felt they had no choice. They'd bought the County Road 17 Melancthon property from Bruce's father, included stonework from Helen's parents in the design of the house as they built it, and spent 32 years making it their home.

It's also where they raised their four children.

When talk of a Dufferin county wind farm first started, the Frasers thought it was a great idea. They threw their support behind anything intended to better the environment. But soon after an industrial turbine - about as tall as a 25-storey building (80 metres) - started spinning nearby, they decided they had no choice but to move away.

They're one of six Dufferin property owners to sell their land to Canadian Hydro Developers (CHD), proponents of the Melancthon EcoPower Centre, the very same operation Fraser is convinced caused their health problems.

"I'd have such a headache I'd be holding my head thinking the top was going to come off my head - that's how bad it was," Helen Fraser says.

"We had no idea how they would impact us until they were put up. Basically, we were all for them because we're for anything that's green, until [the turbines] started running. Then we started getting the symptoms."

The Frasers lived near the first phase of the wind farm, which started operation in 2006. Not long after, she says she started to experience headaches, muscle pain, fatigue and a ringing in her ears. Bruce, she says, began having problems with his blood sugar and when the turbine faced a specific direction, their dog would urinate inside the house at night.

They didn't connect their troubles to the turbines at first. Fraser says that came after they went away on a couple vacations and their symptoms disappeared ... until soon after they returned home.

At the time, Fraser says they lived about 420 metres from the nearest turbine. They now live in Shelburne, several kilometres away from the turbines, where Helen says they're doing "amazing."

"I don't have any of the symptoms that I had before. It's like day and night. ... We just couldn't go on living, for health reasons, the way we were living."

Of the six properties purchased by CHD, Scott Hossie, the company's Ontario environmental manager, says two were purchased as a result of residents' health complaints.

"That's not the preferred outcome for Canadian Hydro. We prefer to find a solution that allows us to continue operating and our neighbours to continue enjoying Melancthon and Amaranth townships. By and large, we've been successful in doing so," he says.

"Really, the concerns about effects on health, or concerns raised by our neighbours of wind turbines with respect to health, are very much the exception."

CHD purchased the other four properties, Hossie says, for storage and to house construction workers as the turbines were going up.

"It's my understanding that all these houses, if they're not needed by Canadian Hydro, will presumably go back onto the market," he notes.

Hossie declined to talk about which properties were purchased because of residents' health concerns, explaining CHD and the sellers signed contracts not to discuss their deal.

Fraser says she signed such a contract.

"I can't discuss the sale," she says, suggesting CHD could "come back" at her if she did. "I can discuss the turbines, but we can't discuss the sale of the property."

Former Seventh Line of Amaranth resident Barbara Ashbee-Lormand says she too signed a similar contract with CHD, which purchased her home.

"At this point, we can state that we and Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. are pleased that we have reached a comprehensive settlement which addresses, to the satisfaction of all parties, the issues that had arisen between us regarding the performance of the General Electric wind turbines at the Melancthon EcoPower Centre," she wrote in a statement emailed to The Banner. "The parties have all agreed that the specific terms of the settlement will remain confidential."

Prior to the settlement, she complained vibrations from low frequency noise kept her and her husband, Dennis, up at night. She said they worked "diligently and openly" with CHD to resolve the issue without success, before they hired a lawyer to take up their case, which resulted in a settlement being reached.

The majority of people living near the local turbines don't appear to suffer the symptoms experienced by some nearby residents.

"We're having no problems at all," says Melancthon's Randy Nielsen, speaking for his wife and two teenage children. "We're surrounded by turbines.

"We've had people come to visit and they all like them."

Of about 300 neighbours, the Ministry of the Environment has received complaints from 17 regarding the Melancthon EcoPower Centre.

"If you have problems with wind turbines in your home, and you're really having difficulty, the wind industry will eventually settle with you," suggests Dr. Bob McMurtry, a former member of the Health Council of Canada and former dean of medicine at the University of Western Ontario.

"It's worked out best for (the wind industry) if they keep those things quiet. There's no requirement by the government for the wind industry to report settlements."

McMurtry acknowledges he has spoken on behalf of Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) - a grassroots group dedicated to raising the profile of health complaints from people living near turbines - but maintains he has no formal affiliation with the group.

Like WCO, McMurtry is convinced of a link between wind turbines and public health problems - a link other health professionals, government officials and wind industry leaders insist has never been proven.

"Despite individual concerns on occasion, peer-reviewed literature has never indicated any trend associated with health effects coming from wind turbines," says Hossie. "From Canadian Hydro's perspective, if anybody has a concern, we deal with it proactively on a case-by-case basis. We certainly do take those very seriously."

Most of the time, he says, noise complaints are mitigated through routine maintenance and upkeep of the turbines.

"In North America, we now have more than 10,000 wind turbines operating. Concerns that have been expressed with respect to health impacts across that entire fleet are few and far between," adds Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). "Our common understanding is that the overwhelming majority of people who live near wind turbines actually have a quite positive experience and are living productively and harmoniously with those turbines."

McMurtry takes a different perspective on the existing literature.

"It's remarkable. [Turbines] been around [in Canada] for over 20 years and no one's done an adequate study to demonstrate their safety," the doctor says.

He believes a "proper" study of the issue would take about five years to complete, with a budget of at least $1 million to complete the work.

"The only people with the resources to do that kind of thing ... is either the industry, which won't happen I imagine, and certainly the government is responsible too, and haven't done so."


Source: http://www.orangevillebanne...

NOV 16 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/23214-no-proven-link-exists-between-wind-turbines-health-problems
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