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Ontario: Request for update and correction of 2010 health ministers wind turbine study

Ruby Mekker|April 25, 2022
OntarioImpact on PeopleNoise

This important letter addressed to Asha Riyaz of the Ontario Ministry of Health, represents the latest action by Ontarians to encourage provincial health officials to acknowledge and address excess wind turbine noise at their homes. The problem of turbine noise has plagued Ontarians residing in rural areas for over a decade since before the Green Energy Act (GEA) was adopted in 2009. Under the GEA (repealed in 2019), municipal authority for siting large wind projects was removed and handed to provincial agencies. Setback distances were established that permitted wind turbines to be sited as close as 550 meters to the wall of residential homes resulting in thousands of complaints of noise and adverse health effects being filed with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH). The record shows that the government was aware of the complaints but repeatedly failed to take them seriously.

This letter was prompted by the recent discovery of a 2015 presentation by the former CMOH, Dr. Arlene King, where Dr. King admits “For a given sound pressure level, wind turbines do produce more annoyance than other community noise sources.”  As highlighted in the letter, this statement by Dr. King is contrary to the position of the CMOH and raises serious questions over why the Office of CMOH is not taking immediate action to update its scientific understanding of wind turbine noise. A portion of the letter is provided below. The full document can be accessed from the document link on this page

 


 

The letter is addressed to Asha Riyaz who works for the Ontario Ministry of Health.

Re: Wind turbines, Health protection, and Annoyance

The purpose of this email communication is to identify inaccurate information continually circulated by promoters of wind projects regarding the adverse health effects from wind turbines. The wind turbine issue may not yet have reached your desks as the Green Energy Act is now repealed. However the giant industrial wind turbine installations approved as a result of that law are still operating under that law and continue to create unliveable  environments for rural communities.

I know that the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health is a very powerful one in Ontario. Decisions made by this office can save lives and change lives. I also know it is a huge responsibility and challenge to remain unbiased especially when government policy is a factor. In a letter to me citing my concerns about a new wind project in my community, acting CMOH Dr David Williams, Nov 20, 2020 stated: "For your information, the Ministry of Health does not have authority over this project. The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) is responsible for policies, protocols, laws and regulation pertaining to wind farms and wind turbines.... The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with Public Health Ontario, monitors and reviews new and emerging evidence [emphasis added] on health effects of wind turbines. While studies show that some people find the sound level from wind turbines annoying, the current body of evidence does not demonstrate that wind turbines directly cause adverse health effects." 

As the balance of this letter illustrates, this CMOH position is not accurate or helpful.

Dr. Arlene King, one of Dr Kieran Moore’s predecessors, is the author of the government sponsored paper entitled The Potential Health Impacts of Wind Turbines May 2010 a literature review. Of the many weak statements made at the time of the release of this now outdated report King claims, “The sound level from wind turbines at common residential  etbacks is not sufficient to cause hearing impairment or other direct adverse health effects, but it may annoy some people.”

However, contrary to that first assessment in 2010, it has been discovered that in a publically available document in 2015 in a PowerPoint presentation to a conference of the Public Health Physicians of Canada PHPC, Dr. King changed that view and made this definitive statement, “For a given sound pressure level, wind turbines do produce more annoyance than other community noise sources.”

It seems obvious that Dr. Moore must update the CMOH 2010 Report to indicate Dr King’s 2015 conclusion on the human health effects of wind turbines and publicly further update the 2015 conclusion.

 

Attachments

Request For Update And Correction Of Cmoh Wind Turbine Study 2010

May 5, 2022


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