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Effects of turbines in question; Company files plan for wind farm

Within six months of the turbines being set in motion, Marshall suffered a stroke and a heart attack, he said. He felt stressed all the time and couldn't sleep. The culprit, he thinks, was the low-frequency noise emitted from the spinning turbines. "We were told that none of this would happen," Marshall said. "These things were supposed to be whisper quiet." Marshall's experience is troublesome to Lawrence Mazur, a Rumney resident watching closely as the neighboring town of Groton moves toward hosting a 24-turbine, 48-megawatt wind farm along the Tenney and Fletcher mountain ridges overlooking the Baker River Valley.

Two years ago this month, Ernie Marshall moved from his home in the lakeside town of Goderich, Ontario, to Seaforth, about a half hour away. Marshall didn't want to leave Goderich: At 65 he was just settling in to live out a peaceful retirement on his five-and-a-third acres, he said. But Marshall said his health had nose-dived since 2006, after a wind farm was built about 1,800 feet from his property.

"I sold the property up there at a loss just to sell it," Marshall said. "I don't think I'd be alive if I hadn't moved."

Within six months of the turbines being set in motion, Marshall suffered a stroke and a heart attack, he said. He felt stressed all the time and couldn't sleep. The culprit, he thinks, was the low-frequency noise emitted from the spinning turbines.

"We were told that none of this would happen," Marshall said. "These things were supposed to be whisper quiet."

Marshall's experience is troublesome to Lawrence Mazur, a Rumney resident watching closely as the neighboring town of Groton moves toward hosting a 24-turbine, 48-megawatt wind farm along the Tenney and Fletcher mountain ridges overlooking the Baker River Valley.

On March 26,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Two years ago this month, Ernie Marshall moved from his home in the lakeside town of Goderich, Ontario, to Seaforth, about a half hour away. Marshall didn't want to leave Goderich: At 65 he was just settling in to live out a peaceful retirement on his five-and-a-third acres, he said. But Marshall said his health had nose-dived since 2006, after a wind farm was built about 1,800 feet from his property.

"I sold the property up there at a loss just to sell it," Marshall said. "I don't think I'd be alive if I hadn't moved."

Within six months of the turbines being set in motion, Marshall suffered a stroke and a heart attack, he said. He felt stressed all the time and couldn't sleep. The culprit, he thinks, was the low-frequency noise emitted from the spinning turbines.

"We were told that none of this would happen," Marshall said. "These things were supposed to be whisper quiet."

Marshall's experience is troublesome to Lawrence Mazur, a Rumney resident watching closely as the neighboring town of Groton moves toward hosting a 24-turbine, 48-megawatt wind farm along the Tenney and Fletcher mountain ridges overlooking the Baker River Valley.

On March 26, Groton Wind LLC, a local arm of Spanish firm Iberdrola Renewables, submitted a wind farm application to the state Site Evaluation Committee, a 15-member board with representatives from various state departments that reviews large energy proposals over a nine-month period and decides whether to approve them. Pulsing red lights would be attached to 11 of the 400-foot turbine structures, per Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

Mazur, chief of psychiatry at Lakes Region General Hospital, lives just over a mile from the proposed wind farm site and has become intrigued in recent weeks by the work of Nina Pierpont, a pediatrician from Malone, N.Y., about 10 miles from the Canadian border.

Late last year, Pierpont published a book titled Wind Turbine Syndrome, linking a constellation of symptoms reported by Marshall and others who have lived close to wind turbines. Caused by low-frequency noise or vibrations in the inner ear, Pierpont says, the symptoms range from sleep deprivation, tinnitus and headaches, to dizziness, increased heart rate and nausea.

"The criticism (of Pierpont's research) has been that it's not a controlled laboratory study, it's anecdotal fieldwork," said Mazur, who has submitted a letter in the Groton case asking the SEC to consider Pierpont's research. "I don't see myself as an expert on this subject. I see myself as a concerned citizen who is reading about a plausible explanation of health effects (from the turbines)."

Industry reports

In response to Pierpont's research, the wind energy industry in the United States and Canada assembled a panel of experts to look into the effects of wind turbines on humans, resulting in a report released in December.

The report finds "no evidence that audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects" and states that "ground-borne vibrations from wind turbines are too weak to be detected by, or to affect, humans."

"It's really as simple as this: Anything you can hear can be upsetting or annoying to you," Bob Dobie, one of the experts on the panel, said. Though the study was commissioned by wind energy organizations, he said "they didn't have any input at all into the stuff we wrote and the conclusions we came to."

Dobie, a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio who specializes in studying the effects of noise, said those who are already opposed to the wind turbines being built nearby are going to be most annoyed with the sound they make, as it reminds them of something they don't like.

He said the turbine noise is no different than if an airport or highway were built nearby, and he compared the situation to a homeowner painting their house purple and causing the neighbors stress about how the garish color reflects on the rest of the neighborhood.

"It doesn't mean that purple is a hazardous color," he said.

But Michael Nissenbaum, a radiologist at Northern Maine Medical Center who has surveyed residents near a wind turbine in Mars Hill, Maine, compared the report by Dobie and his colleagues with "the industry-supported white papers, created by hired experts, that the tobacco industry used in the early '60s."

Nissenbaum interviewed 15 residents between 1,200 and 3,400 feet of the Mars Hill turbines and found that all but one reported new sleeping problems and about half had increased headaches.

"More research is needed, urgently, including and especially research targeted at the effects on particularly vulnerable groups, the elderly and children," he said in an e-mail last week.

Gaps in evidence

After hearing concerns about the turbines from local public health officials throughout Ontario, Ray Copes, the director of a government-affiliated Ontario health agency, used federal funding to study the issue.

The study, released in January, found gaps in the evidence used to support a link between turbine noise and public health.

"People do report sleep disturbance, they do report headaches, these symptoms are real," Copes said. "But whether they reflect anything other than, 'These darn turbines have come into my neighborhood, and I've had no control, I've had no input over this' . . . is probably where the difference of opinion lies."

In the case of the proposed Groton wind farm, Iberdrola officials say the turbines will have little to no effect on residents.

"For the most part, people in Rumney and Groton are not going to hear them at all," said project manager Ed Cherian.

Iberdrola points to the November 2008 completion of a wind farm in Lempster, the first in the state and about half the size of the Groton proposal, as proof that the turbines will not pose a health risk.

Lempster Selectman Everett Thurber said his daughter lives within 1,000 feet of the turbines and has not reported any problems. He was just over at her house on Easter Sunday, where "it sounds like a jet off in the distance."

"If you want to hear them, you can hear them," he said. "It's kind of like a mind-set."

Thurber said the wind farm has added $48 million in property value to the town, which previously had a total assessed value of $117 million.

"I guess if you're against them, you can come up with any kind of foolishness," said Town Clerk Gayle Newton, who described the noise as a rhythmic, "whooshing" sound. "I look at it as it's one of the few opportunities that a business has had to come into Lempster and contribute some . . . tax money."

Both Thurber and Groton selectmen Chairman Miles Sinclair said the turbines' possible health effects was not raised in their discussions with Iberdrola officials. Though Cherian said he has met with the Groton selectmen about 15 times, Sinclair said he first heard about the concept of a "wind turbine syndrome" last week.

Sinclair said he still doubts the turbines pose a health risk to the community, but he wasn't aware of the possibility until now.

"It's not something you can ignore," Sinclair said. "Valid or not, at least it should be addressed."


Source: http://www.concordmonitor.c...

APR 12 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/25613-effects-of-turbines-in-question-company-files-plan-for-wind-farm
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