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Bayshore groups warn of wind turbine effects; Environmental groups plan forums to educate public

Despite conditional approval granted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a 1.5- megawatt industrial wind turbine, the Hazlet Area Quality of Life Alliance (HAQLA) and the Hazlet Environmental Commission (HEC) will host informational forums about wind energy and public health effects the turbines may pose to residents of the region.

Two Bayshore environmental groups are calling for more information on the effects of an industrial wind turbine planned in Union Beach.

Despite conditional approval granted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a 1.5- megawatt industrial wind turbine, the Hazlet Area Quality of Life Alliance (HAQLA) and the Hazlet Environmental Commission (HEC) will host informational forums about wind energy and public health effects the turbines may pose to residents of the region.

"At this point, they are still awaiting full approval to actually construct the turbine," said John M. Curran III, president of HAQLA, in an interview on Feb. 18.

The two township-based groups have been discussing the turbine project and argue that little has been done by the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority (BRSA) to provide members of the public with fair and balanced information about industrial wind turbines.

The BRSA received conditional approval from the DEP for the construction of a 240-foot-tall on-shore concrete pedestal on the plant site's 24-acre property adjacent to the Raritan Bay.

The proposed turbine will be approximately 522 feet... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Two Bayshore environmental groups are calling for more information on the effects of an industrial wind turbine planned in Union Beach.

Despite conditional approval granted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a 1.5- megawatt industrial wind turbine, the Hazlet Area Quality of Life Alliance (HAQLA) and the Hazlet Environmental Commission (HEC) will host informational forums about wind energy and public health effects the turbines may pose to residents of the region.

"At this point, they are still awaiting full approval to actually construct the turbine," said John M. Curran III, president of HAQLA, in an interview on Feb. 18.

The two township-based groups have been discussing the turbine project and argue that little has been done by the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority (BRSA) to provide members of the public with fair and balanced information about industrial wind turbines.

The BRSA received conditional approval from the DEP for the construction of a 240-foot-tall on-shore concrete pedestal on the plant site's 24-acre property adjacent to the Raritan Bay.

The proposed turbine will be approximately 522 feet from a residential neighborhood on the sewage plant property at 100 Oak St.

In January 2009, the authority awarded Conti Enterprises, of Plainfield, a $5.9 million wind-to-energy contract for engineering services related to the project.

"I feel, at this point, despite any permits they may have or approvals thus far, that does not mean that this is going to happen," Curran said. "That's our position. We are going to appeal to the lawmakers to intervene. There are too many outstanding questions regarding people's safety and health. We want to call on the lawmakers, the boards of health, the boards of education because there is a school close by to the turbine. We want to further inform and educate the public about the possible negative impacts."

The groups - both HAQLA and HEC - share mutual goals and will continue supporting each other's forums. Dates have not been set, but plans are in the works.

The proposed turbine, with 118-foot-long blades, will total 380 feet in height, according to BRSA officials.

"We are working to educate the public," said Rosemary Mazza, chairwoman of the Hazlet Environmental Commission, in an interview. "We are not working on a protest line. They [the public] need to ask questions and educate themselves and make an informed decision. Our goals are mutual and we are going to work together to educate the public."

HAQLA member Bill Shewan explained that despite the conditional approval granted by the DEP, the plan is not finalized.

"They [the public] figure it's a done deal," Shewan said. "It is not a done deal."

Members of HAQLA are encouraging the BRSA to increase public outreach about the project, including full disclosure of all project information and documents on the BRSA website, and to hold public meetings.

"It can be stopped," Curran said. "It is not fully approved, and we want people to understand that to clarify, it is not over until they see their blades spinning, as far as we are concerned."

Aside from the flicker effect, which is shadowing from the blades of the turbine, one of the major negative impacts the groups cite is known as wind turbine syndrome, as studied and reported by Dr. Nina Pierpoint.

HAQLA, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group, will sponsor a webcam presentation by Pierpoint, a pediatrician, biologist and ecologist, about wind turbine syndrome, a neurological and sensory disorder that she says can result from low-frequency sound emitted by the turbines.

HEC will also host its own educational forum on wind energy with the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC).

HAQLA member Eugene W. Geer said the syndrome is caused due to low-frequency noise that the turbine creates.

"The decision to build the Union Beach wind turbine seems to have been made by the people who did not sufficiently research the possible effects on people who will be living near the generator, and they may be relying on self-serving industry claims that ignore the known facts," Geer said in an interview.

Robert Fischer, executive director of the BRSA, previously stated the turbines would generate one decibel of noise.

However, members of HAQLA said the BRSA figures do not represent the low-frequency sounds that could pose health risks to not only Union Beach but to surrounding communities such as Hazlet, Keyport and Keansburg as well.

"That's hearable noise," Curran said, in response to the data released by the BRSA. "Their tests are inadequate. They don't measure low-frequency sound. They don't use the correct measuring devices methodology."

"Independent third parties are what's needed to get to the bottom of all these questions. They can't be industry generated. It is not going to be a fair assessment. The lawmakers need to intervene. The state is allowing this industry-generated information to dictate. There needs to be a lot of legislation, a lot of hard work from grassroots, because no one has stepped up to the plate at any level - federal state, county ... the legislators ... nobody."

Other industrial accidents are possible and need to be taken into consideration, members explained. Wind turbine malfunctions have included ice throws, blade disintegration, fires and tower failure.

"They are really wind industrial machines," Shewan said. "These can catch fire on land, they explode, and they can collapse. Something that hasn't been brought up is what if that occurs and does damage to the sewage plant?"

He explained that in case of a fire, halon, or halomethane, a compound of methane, hydrogen and halogen atoms, would be used to extinguish a blaze if the turbine were to catch fire.

"It is outlawed in many countries, as well as New York City," Shewan said. "It pollutes the atmosphere, so it's one thing after another that you add on."

The turbine project is scheduled to receive funding through theAmerican Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The authority will be borrowing up to $7.7 million dollars and, under the federal stimulus package, $3.85 million of that loan will not have to be repaid.

Several HAQLA members said the project is being "rushed" because of the funding.

"They are blinded by the dollars that are coming down from the federal government," Curran said. "They have sacrificed thorough research."

Curran said the BRSA has not put safety or health guarantees in writing at this point. The turbine is proposed for a 1.88-squaremile, high-density beach community and could also affect the character and environment of the Jersey coastline, he said.

Members predict that if the turbine is constructed, other towns will follow suit.

"All of these surrounding towns can be affected - that's talking medically and social," he said. "That's not even talking aesthetically and how these will be seen many miles away."

The group also would like to see pre- and post-construction precautionary measures taken by the authority, such as monitoring of sound intensity and decibel levels; studies of shadow and flicker effects within three miles of the tower; annual health surveys of the population near the turbine; wildlife impact studies; and monitoring of real property values and sales patterns within 10 miles of the tower.

They are also suggesting local governing bodies draft wind energy ordinances that protect the health and welfare of the citizens.

For more information about HAQLA, email hazletareaqualityoflife@gmail.com or visit the website http://www.bayshorewatershed. org/bw/HAQLA/.


Source: http://independent.gmnews.c...

FEB 24 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/24768-bayshore-groups-warn-of-wind-turbine-effects-environmental-groups-plan-forums-to-educate-public
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